Through data, agencies can achieve much needed culture, technology change

Featuring Juliana Vida, Chief Technical Advisor for Public Sector at Splunk.

The strategy is fantastic, it gives agencies a way to think about, "I have to understand my data to move forward," but it helps industry react and provide the right solutions. The challenge that we often see is how agencies and organizations will go about capturing their data, what vendors they’re going to partner with, what technologies and capabilities do they really need? Those details are really, really important.
It’s one thing to have a ten year modernization plan, for example, or five year like the DoD just came out with. It’s another thing to empower the agencies and the operators within those agencies to go after the technologies that they need, talk to the vendors, talk to the industry partners, and quickly get those capabilities because they’re moving too fast. And so, in my opinion, one of the biggest challenges is just all the bureaucracy that’s in place: the paperwork, the processes, the approvals. That is old legacy thinking; that is not the right thinking that is going to get the right capabilities into the hands of users, citizens, warfighters and those who want to make the world a better place.
So there is data flowing through systems all over the place from all different sources, and we know from surveys and reports that really only about 30-40 percent of that data is ever actually used. So part of the challenge is that there is all of this untapped dark data, as we call it, that could be helping to drive better decisions, but it’s never discovered. So part of what the Splunk platform does is gather up all that data from whatever source that comes from.
But let me give an example to make it real for people about how data drives decisions. I’m going to use the opioid epidemic; we’re all familiar with that, it’s a sad story, it’s kind of out of control. We have a customer who is a major hospital in New York, that has been a Splunk customer for years, but they have mostly used us for security, which is what a lot of our customers grew up using us for, but we’ve evolved into a full platform. Well, their security team started to realize that the same data that they were looking at to find patterns in cybersecurity and where there might be an intrusion, or somebody is trying to hack into the system- that same data could be used to identify patterns in the pharmacy, to identify which hospital employees were opening the drug cabinets more frequently than others, which ones were prescribing opioids to people who weren’t even patients in the hospital.