Q&A with CSC VP & CTO Yogesh Khanna: Big Data & The Three ‘V’s’

Yogesh Khanna, CSC

Yogesh Khanna is Vice President and Chief Technology Officer of the North American Public Sector at CSC, bringing more then 20 years of technology and management experience in information technology, systems engineering and integration, information assurance, financial services, and telecommunications markets.

So what did Khanna talk to WashingtonExec about in his interview? Think big data, the three big V’s, buzz words, data gaps, a mobile trend favoring the android platform, and of course, his 2012 win at the 2012 NVTC Washington Tech Government Contractor Awards.

WashingtonExec:  You recently won the 2012 NVTC Washington Tech Government Contractor Awards in the large company category. Could you tell us about how that experience was for you?

Yogesh Khanna: The experience was actually fabulous.  As you know, the list of finalists that I was among was exceptional. Winning the CTO’s Innovator Award was really a humbling experience.  The accomplishments that I was recognized for were a result of a lot of hard work from many, many people across CSC’s public sector.  While this is an individual award, my recognition was made possible in part due to others’ hard work.

WashingtonExec:  What would you say is something that CSC prides itself in?

Yogesh Khanna: I’ve been at CSC now for almost ten years, and I’m probably most proud of how we live up to our commitments. No matter what, CSC has always stepped up to the plate; we always take responsibility to get the job done and done right.

WashingtonExec:  What do the “three V’s (volume, velocity and variety) mean at CSC?

Yogesh Khanna: CSC participated in the recent Tech America Big Data Commission where we helped establish the definition and the characteristics of big data including the three V’s. At CSC, we leverage analytics to unlock the business and mission value of all data, regardless of its volume, velocity and variety.

Playing on the three V’s, we’ve come up with the three I’s.  The first I is for Intelligence–what happened and what action we might take as a result.  The second I is Insight–what is happening at this moment in real time, and what that enables us to actually do in making an informed decision. The last I is Intuition–based on the data that’s at our disposal, can we predict what is likely to happen?  Intuition, as you might imagine, creates some immense opportunities whether we are talking about data in the weather space or the financial community or healthcare or another industry.

WashingtonExec:  What would you say is a current popular “buzz word”?

Yogesh Khanna: Buzz words can often be very distracting when they are poorly defined or not very well understood.  Having said that, I want to look at the glass half full: buzz words can sometimes also be a galvanizing force to bring focus around a particular initiative, some type of trend or a growing phenomenon.

“Big data is an example of where a buzz word has helped convey a complex area in simple, easy to understand terms.”


WashingtonExec:  How do you see the federal government’s need for big data evolving over the next couple years?

Yogesh Khanna: At the core of it, big data is all about correlating vast amounts of data and being able to identify patterns that allow us to extract intelligence we couldn’t even imagine in the past. Big data has the power to reveal what many people have called the “hidden truths” about the companies that we work for or the companies that we do business with in our own personal lives and society at large.

I’m personally fascinated by the possibilities for those in the medical and life sciences fields to unlock the mysteries of the human body, such as understanding why people get colds and how to cure a cold.  Finding clues or patterns that help us better understand the intricacies of the human body, and identify, diagnose and tailor treatments in ways that improve the quality of life, are of great interest to me.

WashingtonExec:  How large or significant is the data gap – the gap between the amount of data available and the amount of people able to analyze it (trained workforce)?

Yogesh Khanna: There’s definitely a shortage of data scientists – there is no question about that.  We’ve always had “analysts” with access to a lot of data, who would apply their domain expertise to draw business or mission intelligence. What has changed are all of the underlying technologies that have accelerated the volume, variety and velocity of the data.

We are now asking the traditional data analysts to also become technology experts so that they can manipulate complex products and technologies that span the big data space.  There is already an immense shortage of these experts, and unless we simplify their user experience as they use these complex technologies, we will make it even more difficult to attract new players who want to become data analysts or scientists.  The industry needs to bring tools and processes to the market that make it easier for analysts to exploit the power of big data technologies without asking them to acquire advanced degrees in computer science or engineering. CSC is making some investments to address this challenge for our clients.

WashingtonExec:  Do you think we need an appointment-such as the Cybersecurity Czar- but for Big Data?

Yogesh Khanna: You are going to have some people say it is too early, but they had the same  view about a Cyber Czar appointment.  They said the same thing when Vivek Kundra came out and said, “We want to embrace cloud and embrace the Cloud First Policy”.  The government is in a unique position, possibly a little bit early, to stand up these roles or relevant policies.

“I don’t think it is such a bad idea for the government to have a Big Data Czar to galvanize and create some level of energy otherwise not there.”


WashingtonExec:  You used the term ‘dark data’ in a number of your reports. How do you define dark data?

Yogesh Khanna: Dark data is an emerging term in the industry for data that is largely undiscovered within a particular enterprise.  We possess this data but don’t have it in a form that  can be ingested, correlated and analyzed to extract intelligence.

WashingtonExec:  Recently, we have seen a trend in mobile technology with users leaning more towards android platform to customize their devices, are you familiar with this trend and if so what are your thoughts on it?

Yogesh Khanna: I’ve studied trends in this space quite a bit and frankly, I see as many people who are android zealots as people who are huge fans of Apple’s IOS.  That war of words between android versus IOS is very much an ongoing discussion in my opinion. Passion often rules here, and there’s really no right or wrong answer.

There are real differences between the two, and it’s a balancing act. Do you go for openness (android) or do you go with something that’s a little bit more controlled and restrictive but gives you some inherent benefits that IOS camp supporters always tout–better security, better user experience?

WashingtonExec:  What do you think is going to be the next big technology to hit federal IT?

Yogesh Khanna: 3D printing. I’ve been digging into it for the last probably 2 or 3 months. I think 3D printing is going to have a dramatic impact to the logistics industry at large.  If you look at the federal community, “logistics” plays a critical role in the day to day operations of the U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force. The military relies on spare parts that are shipped all around the globe to ensure its fleets — whether it is a fleet of cars or airplanes or a fleet of boats — are up and running at any given time.  Today, we maintain an inventory for these spare parts in depots and ship them via ground or air using traditional methods.

Imagine 3D printing where you can maintain a central repository of all the designs of spare parts. Rather than shipping parts around the globe, incurring the cost and the delays, all you have to do is hit the submit button, sending an email of the actual part that is needed at the location. A 3 dimensional print of that part is as good as the actual part. How cool is that? Just imagine the savings and the overall business processes that will be revolutionized. I really see that as a big ticket item for the federal community.

Another area to keep a close eye on is the Machine to Machine (M2M) space.  Imagine a system of networked components that all talk to each other, sharing and correlating data and making intelligent decisions, without any human intervention.  Use of M2M technologies has the potential to revolutionize business processes across many industries, such as manufacturing and healthcare.

WashingtonExec: What was the most recent book you read?

Yogesh Khanna: A fascinating book that came out a couple of months ago called “The Human Face of Big Data.” It is a book by Rick Smolen, and it includes multimedia examples of how big data is touching our lives.  I urge you to download the book; it really  demonstrates the possibilities around big data.

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