From enhancing security practices to modernizing emergency response efforts, big data is changing the way our government does business. Agencies need a platform that can sift through the mountains of data that threaten to overwhelm them, and turn them instead into useful information that can be leveraged for better decision-making.
Kiran Gullapalli and his company, Anika Systems, are adept at assisting federal agencies with this task, through their big data, business intelligence (BI), and data warehousing (DW) solutions.
WashingtonExec recently spoke with Gullapalli about BI and the future of big data in government.
WashingtonExec: Why do you think the demand for big data technology has accelerated in the government?
Kiran Gullapalli: The invention of open-source technologies have opened a floodgate of ideas that were not possible earlier. For example, businesses such as carriers and cable providers, need to submit data to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), but earlier these tasks were mostly in an unstructured format that was hard to digest.
However, with newer technologies, it is now possible to analyze that data much more quickly and to provide insight into things that was just not possible earlier.
The combination of technology that has broken down barriers, and the foresight of leaders who are operating today in government, has opened the floodgates to big data adoption.
WashingtonExec: There are many different types of big data companies and business models out there. How would you describe Anika Systems’ big data analytics practice, and why do you think your model is sustainable?
Kiran Gullapalli: We are laser-focused on the structured big data practice. There are so many companies that are participating in every form of big data, but we want to focus on the structured piece. That means we set up a massive parallel processing environment segment of big data, which is all structured. So that’s where we find our sweet spot. That’s where we excel, and that’s where we have our expertise.
We will eventually get into unstructured data, but not right now. In fact, we have not had many opportunities to come our way, as it relates to unstructured data, because we are so focused on the structured big data segment. Because that segment has been out there for a long time, we will continue to operate for the foreseeable future. We think our model of focusing on this is sustainable over a period of time.
WashingtonExec: With regards to business intelligence, which I know is one of your specialties, how do you identify which is the important data and which is the clutter?
Kiran Gullapalli: We focus on a segment of business intelligence that is mostly driven by the use of demand. So when we sit down with our customers, we take a look at what the requirements are. Sometimes that can be easy to accomplish, but sometimes it’s nearly impossible.
We explain to our clients that the requirements they have are meaningful, but some of them are going to take a lot of time and effort to accomplish.
When our clients look at the honesty we bring to the table, they appreciate it and that’s when only the things that are important are considered and taken to the next level of their priorities.
WashingtonExec: The next question pertains to the three “V’s” of big data: volume, velocity and variety. Which one of these do you see as the largest challenge in the coming years for the government contracting industry?
Kiran Gullapalli: I believe the volume is increasing, but so are the technologies and the cost barriers that have helped in opening that barrier. The variety is also out there, and the newer technologies are helping clients to analyze the things we were previously not able to analyze.
In the coming years, I think the real focus should be velocity. How quickly can you get data out to your customers? That’s why we believe that Agile BI, our data discovery platform, will be the key driver to help with data velocity.
Today our customers want things more quickly, yet the existing enterprise assets across the government community are lacking the speed in which they want the data. But Agile BI can get them the information they need in just a couple of minutes. That’s where I believe that the real challenge is for all the government contracting community to embrace.
WashingtonExec: What more do you think the government should be doing as far as initiatives go to push big data?
Kiran Gullapalli: I believe the government is moving in the right direction set by the first CIO’s and CTO’s websites, especially usaspending.gov and data.gov, and many other citizen-friendly initiatives that are happening. I’m not an authority, by any means, to comment about the future, but I believe it’s the right direction. Maybe a little more speed should be added to increase citizen participation because these initiatives help citizens to make more informed decisions.
WashingtonExec: What is Anika Systems focused on right now?
Kiran Gullapalli: We try to operate under the radar and do good work, which gets good customer references and helps our business to grow and makes customers happy. That’s what we’re focused on. Having said that, our future direction is Agile BI; that is the wave of the future, and that will help customers unlock their data potential.
WashingtonExec: When you aren’t working, how do you like to spend your free time?
Kiran Gullapalli: I’m a big political junkie and business news consumer. I don’t pay any attention to sports; sports is not my cup of tea. These two, politics and business-related information, I’m all for it.
WashingtonExec: Do you have a favorite news source or an app you like to use? How do you prefer to get your news in the morning?
Kiran Gullapalli: My go-to app is the newspaper; I’m still an old school guy. I try to pick up my Wall Street Journal and read it thoroughly every single day. From an app perspective, I’m not a huge consumer of phone-based apps. I prefer to read mostly in paper format because it gives me much more luxury to flip and have control. I’m an old school guy, bottom line!