MarkLogic Public Sector Guru Kevin Shelly Talks Solving Challenges: Helping in Haiti to Big Data Innovation

Kevin Shelly, MarkLogic

Kevin Shelly, MarkLogic

Passion for work, passion for play and passion for service to others drives Kevin Shelly, vice president of the Public Sector at MarkLogic.

Shelly and his wife Pam, who live in Oakton, provide relief and missionary service in Haiti in their spare time, focusing on disadvantaged youths. At first, he was slow to jump onboard pointing out the many ways they could instead help the local area with charitable contributions, fundraising, leadership and guidance.

He soon saw his wife’s passion for helping out in Haiti though, and it rubbed off on him.

“It changes your life and your perspective,” Shelly said. “When you come back to the United States you are very grateful for what you have because you’ve seen so many others that survive with so little. I tell my wife that I’m not sure of the reason I do it now — because of how much I help them or how good it makes me feel. If you are ever not feeling great, my advice is to go help somebody — you will feel terrific.”

The Shellys visit Haiti as often as they can. While at home they work on fundraising by collecting and shipping items to the country through several organizations. Shelly also serves on the board of directors for StreetHearts.

Shelly’s enthusiasm for volunteer service with his family is also present in his professional life.

“It’s exciting to solve customer data challenges, and I would categorize MarkLogic as disruptive innovation,” Shelly said. “When people are tackling big data challenges typically they think about the solutions they already know; for example relational databases and other legacy technologies. MarkLogic’s Enterprise NoSQL is a completely new way to develop, deploy and field systems. It’s an agile technology that is very different from the upfront data modeling required to developing and deploying systems with relational technology.”

Shelly said that the big data market is relatively new, and with it comes a lot of hype and discussion.

“What people are trying to do in a lot of cases is pull together new technologies to solve challenges,” Shelly said. “MarkLogic has been around for about 12 years. We were an Enterprise NoSQL database before NoSQL was cool.”

MarkLogic is the only enterprise NoSQL (Not only Structured Query Language) database that meets the highest mission requirements of Public Sector clients, Shelly said, adding that incredible people, technology and expertise are available for MarkLogic customers from the intelligence community, DOD, Civilian, Healthcare and State & Local Governments to savings & loan communities. MarkLogic’s product is enterprise-ready, hardened, and secure, with a software platform that has all of the enterprise features expected from a very mature product, he added.

“We’ve been doing this for awhile and the product holds up under the most extreme conditions. It just flat out works,” Shelly said. “You will see a lot of these new, shiny objects that want to play in the big market but they really aren’t ready for the enterprise the way MarkLogic is.”

The biggest challenge, he explained, is not technology but instead a willingness to embrace change.

“Change is hard for a lot of people and organizations,” he said.

Prior to joining MarkLogic Public Sector, Shelly worked in sales and leadership roles for companies dedicated to growing their government businesses. He has experience in the enterprise software and services market with Oracle and Sybase, as well as with management consulting and systems integration.

At KPMG/BearingPoint, he and his team grew the business from $75 million to more than $300 million. Before that, he was the senior vice president of Public Sector sales at Affiliated Computer Services (ACS), where he was responsible for 175 people and more than $1 billion dollars in sales.

For Shelly, it’s not the mere specifics that make him proud. “It’s about the journey and the body of work,” he said.

“I’ve had the opportunity to do a lot of different things and I’ve learned a lot,” Shelly said. “I’ve led organizations that have sold software, management consulting, systems integration and now disruptive technology in a marketplace that is exploding. “I’ve been fortunate to help a lot of customers and developed some very good personal and professional relationships along the way. Through out my career.”

Shelly, who strives to help grow the company exponentially, said he keeps it simple when it comes to leading and building great teams.

“I have to hire the absolute best people, provide clarity about their mission and offer leadership, inspiration and the freedom to enable them to accomplish more than they thought was possible.,” he said.

Shelly said he’s also a fan of using front-end metrics — a combination of incorporating data upstream to identify corrective courses of action.

“If your metric is a certain number of sales I like to look at the front-end process of that and the metrics of early indicators of success,” he said.

Shelly also spoke about MarkLogic’s object-based production solution, noting that it provides actionable insight from an ocean of noise. Objects are used by analysts to develop knowledge and expose high-fidelity views of complex concepts such as geopolitical events, disease outbreaks or potential fraudulent claims, he noted.

“The MarkLogic OBP solution provides intelligence and context as it helps answer the who, what, when and where,” he said. “Benefits are that it increases analysts’ productivity by enabling them to leverage the latest information regardless of the format — structured, unstructured or poly-structured. It increases the mission alignment and decreases the time to value by providing a flexible and dynamic data model.”

And, with increased capability of the smartphone and security, people have moved and are continuing to move toward mobility, according to Shelly.

“Look at technologies that have emerged such as the iPad,” Shelly said. “People initially wondered if there was a market for tablet devices. Based on the success of tablets whether it is Apple, Windows or Android platforms, the tablet market is soon to outsell PCs.”

Shelly, who explained that the sky is the limit for MarkLogic, is proud to be a leader there.

“Leadership is an honor, a privilege and all about serving your team and customers,” he said. “It’s about putting the right team in place, setting the direction, growing their passion and skills and fostering an environment of teamwork.

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