To drive the U.S. Army into the future, there needs to be a cultural change to enable a broader vision within the branch on utilizing data to aid the warfighter, according to officials from the Army.

Dr. David Markowitz, the Army’s chief data officer (CDO) and analytics officer, emphasized that culture is one of the areas that the service is trying to shift to modernize the Army. The Army, he added, has been on a data modernization journey for the last few years, and culture has been at the center of the journey.

“We have made a lot of progress across our mission areas, and our greatest progress had been in areas where a culture shift is evident, and there is close alignment between the decision-maker, policy leaders, and people doing day to day data operations to support mission needs,” Markowitz said.

However, the challenge to align all these crucial players persist, he added. To change the culture, the Army had to identify the goals or outcomes it wanted to achieve. With this at hand, it can call out leaders, decision-makers, and anyone else who needs to work with data and show them how to utilize data to support warfighters and meet mission needs effectively and efficiently.

At the moment, the largest gab is seen in the Army’s warfighting units due to a disconnect between data curators and those who need it, Markowitz added.

Walton Cheung, CDO at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, echoed Markowitz on the criticality of a cultural change to move the Army forward with its data efforts. Cheung, who took up the role of CDO just a few months ago, is currently looking across all pertinent missions from civil to environmental to identify the goals and how utilizing data can help achieve said goals.

“We are working to build those bridges to align the data with everyone who needs it, not just those who handle it,” Cheung said. “But we have encountered a challenge; partnerships go beyond just the Army and the [Department of Defense].”

Cheung and his team are now working to create those bridges with other agencies at the Federal and state levels.

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Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.