These are all data problems. If I have the right information at my fingertips I can make rapid data-driven decisions. Decision makers need the right data at the right time to make confident decisions in carrying out the mission.
Vice President, Public Sector, Splunk
The Path to Reopening
We are showing customers how to leverage their data and use dashboards to make decisions in a way that keeps their workforce healthy and safe, while also meeting the demand for services. We are starting to talk to agencies about what they will do next? What you do next is build upon what you’ve done during COVID-19 and don’t lose the momentum. You can’t go back.
Chief Technical Advisor, Public Sector, Splunk
It’s been an incredible past few months for many federal agencies. Mandatory telework stressed their networks and technology infrastructures like never before.
Agencies tried to prepare for the surge in telework, but many struggled during the first few weeks of the coronavirus pandemic.
Many agencies, however, quickly upgraded their networks and adjusted their approaches to address shortcomings in their telework efforts.
Two Federal News Network surveys about six weeks a part found much different views of remote working.
The first survey from March found employees were concerned about virtual private networks (VPNs), latency in networks and lack of laptops.
Six weeks later, many of those problems seem to have been solved. Federal CIO Suzette Kent said in early May that the ability to rapidly pivot and transition to this highly digital environment is possible because of recent investments in modern technology, robust and scalable commercial tools, data management practices, cybersecurity enhancement, and automation.
Agencies made the transformation during the pandemic emergency in a short amount of time and now they have to figure out how to continue this momentum.
Frank Dimina, the vice president for public sector at Splunk, said the coronavirus emergency was a huge litmus test for business continuity planning and one that really put agency continuity of operations (COOP) plans and policies to the test.
Dimina said agencies had to overcome two big challenges—capacity and security, and the surge in the demand for digital services.
“These are all data problems. If I have the right information at my fingertips I can make rapid data-driven decisions,” Dimina said on the show Good to Great: Lessons for Agencies as they Re-open sponsored by Splunk. “Decision makers need the right data at the right time to make confident decisions in carrying out the mission.”
Once agencies made it through that first month, many took a step back to better understand their challenges of maintaining a remote work environment for a longer period of time. Dimina said whether it was through a simple data call or a more complex set of analysis, agencies grasped how to reallocate resources to invest in solving the long-term problems.
Juliana Vida, the chief technical advisor for public sector at Splunk, said those agencies with modern technologies like cloud and shared services in use were more agile and could scale more quickly when going from 20% telework to 95% telework.
She said the ability of agencies with modern technology infrastructures to meet citizen demands is one of the biggest lessons from the pandemic.
“The increase in services has skyrocketed, specifically for certain agencies around healthcare, telehealth, telemedicine and small businesses with loans,” Vida said. “When you think back to 2013 when HHS rolled out the website for the Affordable Care Act, they at least had some preparation. They knew it was coming and had time to prepare. In this case, federal agencies didn’t necessarily have that and went from 0 to 60 pretty quickly in the U.S. particularly on the east coast as the pandemic rolled from west to east.”
Dimina added the pandemic has given agencies a new perspective on software-as-a-service.
“Cloud ensured they had no interruption of services. They didn’t have to refactor their tools or processes just to complete their day-to-day work streams. They were also able to scale up as these increases in digital demands and users working from home required more capacity, these cloud-based approaches allowed them to increase scaling in just a few clicks. They didn’t have to wait on hardware procurement or data center space. There is a lot more value potentially in the way we look at these cloud SaaS based offerings. Cloud benefits are not always about cost. It’s about agility, redundancy, resiliency and scalability.”
Vida said agencies now have to find the balance of meeting citizen expectations, delivering services and maintaining a healthy and safe workplace for employees.
“We are showing customers how to leverage their data and use dashboards to make decisions in a way that keeps their workforce healthy and safe, while also meeting the demand for services,” Vida said. “We are starting to talk to agencies about what they will do next? What you do next is build upon what you’ve done during COVID-19 and don’t lose the momentum. You can’t go back.”
If the last three months proved like never before the value of cloud and modern technologies, Dimina said now agencies can move into the artificial intelligence, machine learning and robotics process automation to further gain efficiencies and serve citizens better.
He said data can support these next steps to modernization as well as bringing employees back to the office.
“From a strategic perspective, there is a real opportunity here to make data more accessible and usable for everyone. This is a change of increasing data democracy or a chance to make data more open and more usable by more people,” Dimina said. “The best way data can be used by government right now is by enabling the front line workers with access to data so they can make decisions in real time. What this means for public sector is that you are taking a data-driven approach for reach job function. I’m not talking about spending more money on tools. This can be leveraging data that’s already collected.”
Vida added that the successes of remote working, online collaboration and an accelerated digital transformation will continue to grow and evolve.
“We’ve seen that people realized a lot of those previously held assumptions and barriers were false,” she said. “It’s been a workplace transformation. It’s a different way of how we think about what it means to go to work.”
Frank Dimina has served as Splunk’s Vice President of Public Sector since 2018. With over 20 years experience leading technology organizations, he is passionate about helping public sector organizations leverage technology to meet mission success. Prior to his current role, Mr. Dimina served as Splunk’s Area Vice President, Federal Civilian and Director of the Homeland Security & Law Enforcement Team.
In his current role, Mr. Dimina is responsible for overseeing Splunk’s Federal, State and Local Government and Higher Education businesses. In addition to his time at Splunk, he has held senior sales leadership roles in high-growth technology companies such as Check Point Software and Symantec. He also has extensive experience building several successful cybersecurity startups. Mr. Dimina received his B.S from the University of Maryland.
Juliana Vida is the Chief Technical Advisor – Public Sector at Splunk, Inc. In this technology evangelist role she provides guidance, direction and thought leadership around Splunk’s data capabilities. She brings over 25 years of experience as an accomplished leader building collaborative teams that accelerate mission outcomes by aligning technological solutions with operational insight.
Before entering commercial industry as an executive leader, she served honorably for 24 years in the United States Navy at sea and on shore as a dual-qualified Surface Warfare Officer and Naval Aviator (helicopter pilot). Her curious mind, bias for action and innovative approach to driving change led to her taking senior leadership roles in the Pentagon, culminating in serving as the Navy’s Deputy CIO. Prior to joining Splunk, Juliana was a Vice President in Gartner Executive Programs, partnering with and advising federal government Chief Information Officers (CIO) and IT senior leaders with insights into current technology trends and future innovations.
A 1994 graduate of the US Naval Academy, Juliana is a current member of Women in Technology and Women in Defense. A self-professed foodie, she is also an accomplished triathlete, marathoner, and televised game show champion.
Jason Miller is an executive editor and reporter with Federal News Radio. As executive editor, Jason helps direct the news coverage of the station and works with reporters to ensure a broad range of coverage of federal technology, procurement, finance and human resource news. As a reporter, Jason focuses mainly on technology and procurement issues, including cybersecurity, e-government and acquisition policies and programs.