The IC’s Push for Secret Transparency

The Department of Defense Intelligence Information System (DoDIIS) conference took place in San Antonio, Texas from December 12-15. Its annual gathering of industry and government personnel invites networking, exhibitors and speakers to take on the top IT challenges currently facing the Department of Defense (DOD). Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence, Dr. Stacy Dixon, spoke to the audience at large regarding data, its challenges, and opportunities within the intelligence community (IC).

According to Dr. Dixon, one of the top goals of the IC is to move from a “need to know” basis, the age-old idea of information disseminated to a select group, to a “need to share” mentality. This is a paradigm shift for much of how the U.S. IC functions. She further spoke at length about data, its handling, as well as interoperability and training and retaining talent; both themes have pervaded nearly every presentation at DoDIIS.

Data and Analytics

Dr. Dixon’s focus on data centered primarily around data sources and their handling. It can be easy to jump to the latest data technology available on the market, especially for those technology vendors and channel partners in the industry who have tediously developed artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) products and services with far reaching capabilities. Prior to the deployment and implementation of those, however, we are reminded of the importance of the initial channels and collection practices. The latest technology doesn’t make up for poor input. Dr. Dixon furthered her discussion noting not only the importance of clean data entering a system, but the ability to make it both discoverable and interoperable between and among teams. Therein lies the challenge stated over and over by the DoD as of late. It’s an oxymoron, but one that needs a solution; clean, secure data, which is simultaneously shared across systems and agencies. How do you take something secret and make it, of all things, transparent?

This Isn’t New

There’s a tendency in industry upon developing innovative technologies and capabilities to believe they are one of the first to the market, solving for the latest issue facing a given federal agency. Dr. Dixon reminded the DoDIIS audience in her remarks that this is flawed thinking. Receiving intelligence securely has always been a top opportunity and problem to solve. The swath of data now available is simply providing another avenue to aid in the eventual solution, but the problem has long been in existence.

What Now?

So, what do you do as a technology vendor or channel partner in the U.S. public sector IT space? According to Dr. Dixon, as well as several other panelists who shared their knowledge and insights at DoDIIS, the key lies in decreasing the time it takes to understand data and eliminating the barriers to interoperability. In other words, keep the data secure and actionable, while making it available across networks. If you as a technology vendor or channel partner can provide a solution tackling any portion of those needs, your likelihood of need within any federal agency is exceedingly high.

Federal agencies are currently tackling some of the largest challenges seen since the start of the Cold War. In some ways, we’re at a precipice for laying the foundation of the newest battlefield. The next several years laying, or rather, re-laying the groundwork for data, interoperability and collaboration in the cyber realm, will ultimately carve the foundation for agencies’ future posture on the warfront.

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About the Author:
Susanna Patten is a senior analyst on the DLT Market Insights team covering tech domain centric trends across the Public Sector.