Interview: Paul Strasser on Leveraging New Technologies and Big Data for Mission Success in 2014

Paul Strasser, Dynamics Research Corporation

Paul Strasser, Dynamics Research Corporation (DRC)

Paul Strasser is Dynamic Research Corporation (DRC)’s Senior Vice President and General Manager, High Performance Technology Group. Though he joined this position in 2010, Strasser has over 28 years of experience in technical and senior management positions and was COO of Pragmatics for almost six years. Prior to Pragmatics, Strasser was VP and Division General Manager for Titan Corporation’s Enterprise Services and Solutions Sector.

This past October, Strasser dedicated his time as the co-chair of ACT-IAC’s Executive Leadership Conference 2013 alongside government co-chair, Margie Graves. ACT-IAC is a public/private partnership to help enable government mission performance.

Strasser spoke with WashingtonExec about how his involvement with the organization, his market outlook for 2014, and the disruptive potential of big data analytics.

DRC was acquired by Engility Corporation in December 2013.


“2.5 billion gigabytes of data are being created each day now. This is now stressing the systems we have put in place and also creating situations where we have to deal with this massive increase in data. At the same time it provides us tremendous enablers for mission performance.”


WashingtonExec:  What is your market outlook for the next 12 – 14 months?

Paul Strasser:  At the 2013 ELC conference our theme was “Driving results in a 21st century government leveraging new technologies and data for mission success.” One of the things that we did differently this year at ELC is we organized our tracks around mission areas of government; those were cyber security, health and sciences, public safety and law enforcement, and financial and regulatory missions. Within each of those we talked about the challenges and enablers that data provides today.

We are being flooded by data today. Essentially 2.5 billion gigabytes of data are being created each day now. This is now stressing the systems we have put in place and also creating situations where we have to deal with this massive increase in data. At the same time it provides us tremendous enablers for mission performance. The real key is how we use this data to drive the mission’s performance going forward. That’s what we focused on. Over the next year we are going to continue to talk about ACT-IAC, which is enabling the government’s mission and delivering better services to the citizens. That’s the continuum and that’s the thread that we will continue to work through so the conversation doesn’t end at ELC. ACT-IAC is a public/private partnership to help enable government mission performance.

The one other piece that I would mention is the entire content of ELC was derived from learning outcomes – so we featured case studies within the sessions themselves. People were able to earn actual certified educational units and professional development units as a result of attending. As ACT-IAC moves forward, we are going to continue to be a premier organization in the professional development area. ELC is just another way to get to that. We’ll continue to do that throughout the year. We’ll continue to talk about procurement and other aspects that enable mission performance. This one was really focused on the data, data analytics and open data promise that is available today.


“The big data challenge start to come along as the data increases and explodes. As the data increases and as we ingest more data, we are going to continue to see these big data challenges.”


WashingtonExec: Do you see big data analytics as something that is growing to scale or do you see it as a disruptive technology within federal IT?

Paul Strasser: Before it becomes a true disrupter we have to do more with what we have. I think most of the problems we have today are not what I would characterize as big data problems, it’s actually a smaller percentage on the way we define it here at DRC. When you look at data analytics and enabling better performance through analytics there are immediate things right in front of us that we can do with the data that we have today. The big data challenge start to come along as the data increases and explodes. As the data increases and as we ingest more data, we are going to continue to see these big data challenges. There is technology today that is available that is going to help enable that. Many of the solutions around unstructured data use Hadoop technology and No SQL.  There are also the standard data mining data analytics tools like SAS and others that can enable performance today. As we move forward, structured and unstructured data has to come together with greater volumes and greater velocity and greater voracity – 3 of the Vs. We are going to see increases in these tools being rolled out in order to really get to the enablers and the real value in the data itself.


“Outdated systems are incapable of handling the influx of structured and unstructured datasets, forcing healthcare agencies to turn to innovative solutions to categorize, capture, manage and share this crucial, if not life-saving, data. Through collaboration, agencies can enable the continuous improvement of the healthcare system.”


WashingtonExec: How are agencies addressing the challenges of big data and utilizing data for their mission?

Paul Strasser: Through ELC, we realized the intersection of technology, security and mobility presents unique opportunities, as well as challenges, and government must embrace accountability and validity to make data actionable to agency missions.

For example, within health IT, the exponential increase in the amount of data is challenging the symbiotic relationship that exists between data and infrastructure. Outdated systems are incapable of handling the influx of structured and unstructured datasets, forcing healthcare agencies to turn to innovative solutions to categorize, capture, manage and share this crucial, if not life-saving, data. Through collaboration, agencies can enable the continuous improvement of the healthcare system.

Another pattern we’ve seen is the value of trust. For public safety agencies, trust is paramount in the completion of missions. There needs to be trust in the standards, identity processes and security protocols to ensure trust in the data. Trust in the data, enables the sharing of information with other agencies and jurisdictions. This increased information sharing results in transparency and ultimately trust with the public. This governance model of data is key in the multi-jurisdictional world of public safety and law enforcement. While the promise of technologies like biometrics can be a great enabler of this trust, for the public safety and law enforcement community, there must be a basic alignment of policies, procedures and people with that technology to realize this vision


“As agencies continue to interweave the promise of emerging technologies, security remains a common thread to these initiatives’ successes. Meanwhile, the types of threats facing our nation’s infrastructure are consistently advancing. Government IT professionals are forced to find a balance to deliver on their missions and secure the infrastructure of governance.”


WashingtonExec:  As we look back in 2013, what were other common themes that the government IT community had to tackle?

Paul Strasser: In 2013, organizations were required to address a diverse set of critical issues facing the federal IT community. At ELC in October, government and industry attendees collaborated and discussed realistic strategies to enable government’s mission. One common theme addressed was the balance of security and mission. As agencies continue to interweave the promise of emerging technologies, security remains a common thread to these initiatives’ successes. Meanwhile, the types of threats facing our nation’s infrastructure are consistently advancing. Government IT professionals are forced to find a balance to deliver on their missions and secure the infrastructure of governance. Steve VanRoekel spoke of the teachable moment of Healthcare.gov at ELC, and over the coming year there will be many teachable moments as collectively government and industry work together to solve some of these significant and complex IT challenges. ACT-IAC and its government and industry members stand ready to collaborate to face these challenges head on to advance government forward in 2014.

 

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