The Navy and Marine Corps are in the midst of a wholesale restructuring of their enterprise technology environments.
Defense Department organizations are moving to multiple cloud computing services and looking to use data in all aspects of their operations. Janice Haith, strategic client director for Department of the Navy at Oracle, believes the Navy is particularly interested in using automation and artificial intelligence to improve its business processes.
But Haith says government CIOs will have to pay close attention to their workforce requirements by ensuring they have the right expertise in place to oversee multi-cloud environments.
“The workforce needs to have skill sets, retraining,” Haith said during Federal News Network’s second annual DoD Cloud Exchange. “But there’s also this fear of loss of jobs. And that’s an issue not just Navy but everybody deals with. And you also have to address it with Congress because Congress is concerned about the constituents in their jurisdictions.”
Cloud balancing act
Prior to joining Oracle, Haith spent more than three decades in government, including six years as U.S. Navy chief information officer. She oversaw the service’s shift to Microsoft Windows 10 and the scramble to improve cyber hygiene in the wake of the Office of Personnel Management hack.
Haith was also there when the Navy and the rest of DoD began consolidating data centers and moving to commercial cloud services. The challenge then was convincing people that moving from on-premise data centers to the cloud was the right move.
“I think it’s been a challenge relative to everybody embracing it,” Haith said. “But I think the bigger challenge is, DOD has so much information, and what do you move into the cloud that you need right away? And what do you put in a cold storage environment that you don’t need, or you may need to keep it for retention based on the law, but you may not need it right away?”
DoD as a whole has moved to elevate the role of data and digital processes, most recently by establishing the chief digital and artificial intelligence officer. The role is currently filled by DoD Chief Information Officer John Sherman.
“What business processes can we benefit from? What transactions can we eliminate by using artificial intelligence and machine learning?” Haith said.
But the government often struggles to recruit and retain personnel for technology jobs, as the private sector typically offers much higher salaries. And with the mandate to adopt cloud-enabled services like AI and machine learning, Haith said it’s likely to increase the demand for contractors to implement DoD’s technology projects.
“When industry can lure you away, they are,” Haith said. “That means DoD has to outsource to those vendors to get the work done, and I think you’re going to see more outsourcing. The government provides so much training, but industry provides massive amounts of training that everybody doesn’t get the opportunity to do.”
As a result, Haith sees DoD’s technology workforce becoming leaner, along with the need for a multi-skilled workforce that can provide sufficient oversight of industry.
“I think the workforce is going to have to be cross-trained,” Haith said. “They need to be multifaceted. So you may be a network administrator today, but maybe you also need to be a database administrator. You know how to do both to have the oversight of what the vendors are doing.”
To listen to and watch all the sessions from the 2022 Federal News Network DoD Cloud Exchange, go to the event page.