British Army transforms decision-making using analytics

The British Army is enhancing the quality of resourcing and operational decision-making using data analytics.

The British Army has been able to make smarter use of data to transform how effective it is at managing its manpower and, crucially, prevent departures of key personnel.

Working with analytics via SAS, the Army is now supporting the subjective decision-making of its leaders with a wider range of quality data, leading to more effective decisions and deployments.

The British Army is using SAS software and services to provide its leaders with the key information they need to make the best manpower and deployment decisions. Following troop reductions in the regular army under the 2010 Strategic Defence Review, it is essential that the Army can identify, resource and deploy its most skilled personnel effectively.

>See also: 3 ways data has transformed the British Army

“The success of the armed forces will always be the result of close collaboration between soldiers, policy-makers, civil-servants and vendors such as SAS,” said Tim Carmichael, chief data officer and chief analytics officer at the British Army.

“The personal judgement of our most experienced staff will continue to reserve the final say in every decision that we make. Yet, in whatever task we bring data to bear we have seen greater successes achieved. SAS has helped us to improve the quality of our decisions – not replacing, but augmenting the human judgement at the heart of the Army.”

Initially intended to help the British Army manage wider manpower resource needs, the use of SAS has grown to service the organisation in other ways, including helping it reduce the churn of valuable personnel. The platform has helped the Army understand why it lost some of these personnel to voluntary outflow – soldiers deciding to leave before the end of their contracts – and how it could work to prevent this.

Using a large data set of every soldier to voluntarily leave the Army within the last five years, the analytics firm determined that the most likely motivations a soldier would have for voluntary exit would be their age and length of service, often coinciding with a change in the size of their family.

>See also: The UK’s top 50 data leaders 2017

The model has proven instrumental in helping staff officers identify the conditions that could lead to the early exit of valuable personnel, allowing them to take pre-emptive action to encourage the soldier to stay.

Since its deployment, the platform has expanded to 700 users across the army. While primarily used by planners and policy makers, SAS also sees significant use by logistics, education and investment teams as well as for sentiment analysis of the workforce.


Charles Senabulya, VP & Country Manager at SAS UK & Ireland, commented: “Like so many mature organisations, the British Army had a wealth of data at its disposal, yet lacked the capabilities to use it. Much of it was siloed away or lost to legacy systems where it couldn’t be integrated, analysed or mined for insight. That has now changed, and the Army is able to draw from an arsenal of data, both internal and external, to assess, predict and make the optimal choice.”

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...

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