Data management at the edge comes with various opportunities, but plenty of challenges for Federal agencies, including a shortage of data and analytics professionals in the workforce.

Chief Data Officer Eileen Vidrine from the U.S. Air Force (USAF) and Chief Technology Officer Ramesh Menon from the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) both agreed during the Data Analytics at the Edge 2021 virtual forum that there is a “war on talent” in the Federal space.

“It’s not about one thing, it’s about building that pipeline of talent moving forward,” said Vidrine. “We have to be all in to develop that talent throughout the component or it impacts our mission, so we’re making those very targeted, laser-focused investments in our people.”

“I like to say: people first, mission always. It’s really about getting our people really aligned up, not just today, but the pipeline moving forward is critical,” she added.

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In addition to talent, Menon offered that another challenge for DIA is speed and scale as the agency moves from counterterrorism to strategic competition.

“We need to make sure that we can move fast and we can scale fast and bring the other platforms in place to make sure they’re building on top of those newer digital platforms where data can be shared and consumed in any direction based on the policies that is applicable to that specific mission need, depending on which partner you’re working with,” said Menon.

Menon continued saying that technologies such as cloud, AI, and quantum will be able to enable speed and scale in the future, but that having the right people in place to capitalize on those technologies is critical.

“I would say speed and scale is very important, and technologies like cloud, AI, and quantum in future will enable some of those things, but to do all those— I mean, technology is important— but to do all those, the most important ingredient is talent,” said Menon. “So, once we have the right people in the right place, all the things will happen.”

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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.