It's hard to find a truly greenfield site when it comes to data processing. Layers of legacy systems and integration projects lead to highly complex environments that are unfriendly toward data management. But I'm surprised to learn how one domain you might think free of legacy complexity is just as plagued as any other: Space warfare.
The Air Force, the National Reconnaissance Office and other space-centric intelligence agencies are working together in a program called the Joint Inter-agency Combined Space Operations Center (JICSPOC). It seems these organizations have never shared information before, so they've got all the problems you associate with disparate data.
You know how the focus in all kinds of industries is on real-time business? Here's John McNellis, deputy assistant Defense Secretary for space, strategic and intelligence systems: “when we have something go wrong on a satellite today the assumption is, we have an anomaly. And everybody is going to gather together and we are going to study this for a while, and then we’ll make a decision about what to do. While there’s urgency, we’re going to work it to death. That doesn’t work so well when things happen a lot faster.”
That doesn't sound like anyone's idea of effective space warfare. It's more like playing chess through the mail. I guess business organizations have an advantage over intelligence agencies. Businesses compete, but they must also collaborate – in order to create, service, and grow the very means of competition. They have to manage the ambiguities around trust in a competitive environment. They also must learn to trust and share across value chains, while attempting to protect their own interests. Intelligence agencies, by contrast, have been closed organizations – and many of them are so far from being open to sharing that they actually deny their own existence.
Introducing data standards in this situation is an obvious technical solution. The barriers around adoption will all be to do with culture. These cultural barriers make some of the local difficulties we have in business look trivial. Breaking Defense