Just about a month ago, the White House headed by President Donald Trump was reacting to a global Pandemic with no basis for action. They sent emergency supplies of much needed Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and respirators that sat in a New York warehouse for 2 days. Next morning, Governor Cuomo of New York is asking for more ventilators and more PPE. As a matter of fact, his pleas for more stuff, and the Federal government response of sending more stuff or at least promising to do so was a daily topic during the news briefings.

April 2nd white house briefing marked a shift in this daily squabble between states and the Federal government over lifesaving supplies. The catalyst for the change in tone and decision making was Data.
Admiral John Polowczyk during his briefing segment said:

“On the data front. This is almost unprecedented. This is a commercial supply chain with six to seven major distributors of health equipment. We brought them all in and we said, we need to make informed decisions and we are going to help make informed allocation decisions…”

He went on to describe how his team is integrating the supply chain ERP of vendors with his own, and working on integrating hospitals data as well, so he can make informed real time decisions on where will the valuable assets of the federal government going to be deployed.
Journalists are trying to understand why are the efforts announced by the Federal government on their daily briefings are not reflecting the facts in the ground as reported by front line health workers, hospitals, and even state governors.
The response from Admiral John Polowczyk was:

“So we put together this data element over the last 13 days. Get the people in, look at the problem, build this. I am now seeing truth about what’s in the supply chain and I would say that there’s been some abnormal behavior. Okay. »

Data is revealing Truth! It is giving more confidence to the federal government, and it is informing their actions, while the blame game is starting to subside. The next day, it was reported that Governor Cuomo was getting a 1000 ventilators from China and another 140 from the state of Oregon.
On a different front, Both Doctors Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx are using data to inform the president of the current models of the Pandemic spread, which he relied on to extend the stay at home recommendation until April 30th. The more accurate data that’s available, the better confidence the white house will have in communicating crucial event dates with the American people.

Notwithstanding the political gamesmanship that goes between media, state governors, and the white house as they are going about their mission of saving lives, while trying to score political points; it is fascinating as a data professional to see the role Data has played in shaping and changing the narrative. The word “data” has been mentioned 35 times during the April 2nd white house briefing, which is not a coincidence, but came after weeks of mixed messages, confusion, and then a realization that as the scientists at the CDC rely on data to inform their decisions, so should other parts of the government that’s dealing with this Pandemic.

In my daily conversation with my corporate customers, we go over the Microsoft Azure Modern Data Estate pitch. It has become second nature to us, as we do believe in data as an indispensable instrument to drive growth, inform decisions, and propel a company to new levels of efficiency and innovation. However, we do see some lethargy in action as modernizing a data estate requires investments of time and money, and in the absence of long term vision, the ROI is not apparent.
The fix is to have that long-term strategic vision. You cannot afford not to have one as it pertains to your data estate. The same way companies are now having discussions and even emergency project implementations to support a remote workforce, they should start taking inventory of their data estate, and look at the infinite compute and storage available in the Cloud to house their data, prepare and transform, analyze and predict, and report and consume as actionable insights.
In order for that to happen, a company will need a leadership equivalent to that of a Navy Admiral, a vision equivalent to that of the “open our country back” white house mantra, and an execution plan and time frame commensurate with the leadership vision.