Decision Support is an organizational process that gathers and analyzes stakeholder inputs, raw data and, now, documents to support major decision-making.  As unstructured data volumes have proliferated in recent years, attempts to use existing tools to systematically harvest and correlate information that could be insightful has not been fruitful.  Whether rigid or reactive, manually intensive approaches are still the norm.

The challenge is that Decision Support cannot be a uniform, one-size-fits-all process.  Decision processes, like data sources, evolve over time, especially for larger and more complex decision-making that involve multiple internal and external stakeholders.  The full implications of a decision are not always clear up front, so a flexible analytics technology foundation is required to adapt to varied decision-making processes. The critical success factor is the ability for the analytics engine to source, integrate, analyze, package, and deliver the relevant data from inside and outside an organization, regardless of formats.

Handoff Partners  provides decision support services, solution architecture, ontology development, and strategic communications for large Department of Defense (DoD) analyses of alternative-projects supporting future aviation acquisition programs. The DSE is built on MarkLogic, which dynamically links all relevant data to the decision-making process, evolving as the process unfolds.

Prior to using Handoff’s Decision Strategy Engine (DSE), clients would make billion-dollar decisions based on models captured in Excel and PowerPoint. A traditional decision support tool might be able to slightly improve the accuracy of the model, but would not be able to correlate knowledge across structured and unstructured facts, cost, risks and strategic objectives to deliver a hi-fidelity, evidence-based framework.

DSE’s flexible ontology-based semantic layer defines and manages data correlations and captures relationships between strategic goals, performance model, risks and costs.  This layer also powers advanced search and alerting functionality, bringing context from the decision makers into the data set. This decreases analytical cycle-time previously spent collecting and normalizing data, while increasing analytical rigor by integrating both structured (spreadsheets and other quantitative sources) and unstructured (documents and other qualitative sources) data into the decision process. DSE delivers evidence-based recommendations used to logically identify and evaluate desired courses of action while overcoming the decision biases that lock decision-makers into expensive and ineffective choices.

There will always be gaps between integrated data analytics and decision making, but Handoff Partners delivers an evolutionary step with revolutionary implications by integrating best-in-class data analytics technology with proven processes that support and strengthen decision making. 

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