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NEWS | Nov. 17, 2020

AMCOM analytics academy goes live

By Antwaun J. Parrish U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command

The U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command G-8 launched the AMCOM G-8 Analytics Academy in October which focuses on improving employees’ efficiency through a series of courses that will add to their knowledge and skill toolbox.

Dale Smith, AMCOM G-8 director, further explained the overall concept of the academy and its benefits to the end user.

“It’s training on data analytic tools that are available to analysts to ensure that they are aware of these tools and know how to use them to help perform their normal job duties,” said Smith, adding that the training can be found online through Army eLearning. “If you complete the identified courses, then you can achieve the AMCOM G-8 Analytics Certification.”

Smith went on to state that the G-8 Analytics Academy has been under development for the past six months and emphasized that they spent a lot of time validating the curriculum.

“Tonya Smith [the G-8 Analytics Academy program coordinator] completed every course to make sure they were achieving our objectives,” said Smith. “The need came about because, over the past several years, there have been a number of advances in the capability of the resource management systems that we use and also the analytic tools that are available for resource management professionals.”

He went on to state that many analysts are unfamiliar with these tools and tend to use Microsoft Excel to try and do everything.

“The analogy I use is, ‘You have a tool box with a screwdriver, wrench, hammer and a pair of pliers; you know you have a set of tools but, every time you have something to do, you only pick up the screwdriver because that’s the one you’re most comfortable with,’” said Smith. “Therefore, you use the screwdriver as a hammer and as a wrench. The screwdriver works well for turning screws, but is horrible at doing the tasks the other tools were designed for. Similarly, it behooves analysts to learn how to use all the tools in their toolbox.”

“After the classes were approved, I completed all of them to make sure that they were geared toward the outcome that we wanted,” said Tonya Smith. “I looked at it from several different points of view when I was taking the classes. We tried to find classes that would appeal to all analysts so that, no matter how far along you are in your analytic expertise, you can find something in each one of them that would help you become a better analyst.”

She stated that it took her about a month to complete the 20-25 hours of course objectives.

“I didn’t work on training full time,” said Tonya Smith. “I was working closely with the G-6 SharePoint Team, Angela Holt and J.D. Lattuca, to develop the academy’s site. They took our requirements and worked their SharePoint magic to produce a high-quality and professional site in a short amount of time.”

The analytics academy will benefit individuals and the organization as a whole based on the research and data they provide to AMCOM leadership.

“The normal cycle of performing a data query is [that] the analyst receives some sort of question that they need to answer,” said Dale Smith. “Then they have to figure out what type of data is needed and where it resides and then pull the data and analyze it to formulate a response, which is then sent up to the leader who asked the original question.”

“The ultimate consumers of what the G-8 provides is the commanding general and the deputy to the commanding general,” said Smith. “It’s up to G-8 leaders to give them the best information that we can; and the better information, analysis and recommendations we receive from the analysts, the better information we can provide to the CG.”

A certain amount of training is required on a recurring basis for employees to maintain certifications.

“Since employees requiring certifications already have to take continuous training, they might as well complete the analytics academy curriculum because these courses will count toward their recertification requirements,” said Smith.

Additionally, Smith said that he intends to recognize graduates of the G-8 Analytics Academy at quarterly G-8 town halls in order to highlight employees who have gone above and beyond to become the best analysts they can be.

Tonya Smith said other professions can benefit from this academy as most of the courses are basic analytic classes that focus on Microsoft Office products. “It helps you sharpen your skills, and adds tools to your toolbox to make you more effective as a worker.”

Increased efficiency is one of the most invaluable assets Tonya Smith said she’s earned from this academy.

“We are working in a very data-centric environment no matter what job series we’re in,” she said. “The more training we can get on how to deal with that data, the better we’re going to be as a workforce. Whether you are fresh out of college or whether you have been in the workforce for years, this academy will help as far as giving you the tools to thrive in a data-centric environment and to be competitive with your peers.”

The AMCOM G-8 Analytics Academy is open to all government employees. Additional information can be obtained on the SharePoint site: