Officials from the Department of Defense (DoD) emphasized this week scaling cloud and data capabilities to empower warfighters operating at the network edge is crucial to meet the Pentagon’s mission needs.

Paul Puckett III, director of the Enterprise Cloud Management Office for the Department of the Army, said that harnessing cloud capabilities will help make new technologies accessible to even the most remote outposts where the military operates and give warfighters the intelligence and tools needed for mission success.

“Cloud computing has fundamentally changed our ability to move at speed and integrate agility into the way that we see and understand problems and deliver solution capabilities to resolve those problems,” Puckett said during a November 10 virtual event organized by Accenture.

Preston Dunlap, Chief Architect Officer of the Air Force and Space Force for the Department of the Air Force, agreed and said that leveraging cloud capabilities and data in the right ways opens the aperture to test and scale new technology.

At the same time, Dunlap pointed out that the DoD and its mission partners must learn and also be comfortable with “failing smartly.” When a problem occurs, or a failure happens, institutional processes need to be in place to help leaders understand mishap and learning from them, Dunlap explained,

“We need to be able to accept failure and move past it. Be comfortable with failing smartly, or we will find ourselves left behind in the race towards innovation,” Dunlap said. “We also need to enable people to push the innovation barrier.”

According to Erica Dretzka, director of Data Management and Analytics Infrastructure for the Department of Defense (DoD), effectively using data at speed and scale is essential for strategic and tactical advantage.

DoD is a data-centric organization that uses data at speed and scale for operational advantage and increased efficiency. And the DoD Data strategy, Dretzka added, “has been an effective guiding post for the proper and unilateral use of data within the department.”

She said that investing in data and analytics is incredibly important, and must be at the forefront of the DoD’s efforts, because global adversaries are racing to gain superiority in the information realm. Dretzka also singled out the always-difficult pursuit of sufficient technical talent to make good on those strategies.

“Identifying more talent is our biggest bottleneck at this point. We have the data, and we have the vision, but the challenge is getting people in place,” Dretzka said. She added that DoD must work harder to retain its current data scientists, and do a better job at recruiting more of them.

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