Welcome back to Meet the Innovators, where we feature the thinkers and doers making great things happen for Octo’s customers. Today we’re interviewing Cindy Walker, Vice President of Octo’s Data Management and Analytics Center of Excellence (CoE). Cindy has been with Octo for 16 months and supports all of Octo’s lines of business and business development with data management and analytics solutions and best practices.
Cindy, since coming on board, you’ve led some impressive initiatives. To get started, can you describe the work you do on a daily basis?
My daily work includes developing, maturing, and training staff in data management and analytics innovations and solutions. I engage with existing project teams and their clients to describe best practices and solutions. I also collaborate with Marketing to describe the value of our data-focused offerings to existing and target clients, and I work with the business development teams to include data management and analytics solutions in our proposals to win new business.
Now let’s get a little more specific. What is one project you’re most proud of and why?
While I’ve been involved with myriad interesting and rewarding projects, I’ve been proud to lead development of our portfolio of next generation data management and analytics solutions to enable Federal Government organizations to increase their ratio of value from data to investment. In this capacity, I am approaching and overcoming challenges by researching and developing innovations around data mesh – a microservices and distributed architecture-based approach to delivering trustworthy analytics data at scale.
What sets the data mesh project apart from others is that I am involved in the early adoption phase of innovation across industry, and we are leading the industry in introducing this approach into the Federal Government. I am proud to help the Federal Government learn about and experience the benefits of being an early adopter of this promising approach in support of their vital missions.
When you think of the word “innovation” in terms of your work, what comes to mind and why?
In the context of data services and solutions, I think of “innovation” as out of the box thinking and developing creative approaches to overcome the challenges of traditional approaches to increasing value from data. That means helping clients overcome data latencies, reduce friction, and enable domain data owners and data consumers to interact more directly to develop and exchange high value data products needed to improve mission performance. Also, developing creative solutions to close the gap between operational data use cases and analytical data use cases with new operating models and creative use of data management technologies come to mind.
We are doing very exciting and groundbreaking work to “jump the technology curve” in the data space. We are using existing and emerging technologies in creative new ways, such as designing and implementing data mesh data platforms that significantly reduce the cognitive load required of users by enabling extensive self-service capabilities via the data platform. The result of these efforts is acceleration of the iterative evolution of extensive capabilities to enable Federal Government organizations to exploit the data mesh platform to improve their data value to investment ratios.
What advice would you give to someone just starting out in your position?
I would encourage anyone new to always think of the mission impact and value from data that the data services and solutions provide for clients. I would also advise them to demonstrate value through proofs of concept and prototype implementations using open source technologies first, focusing on real world use cases that enable target clients to see exactly how the data services will help them overcome mission challenges. I would encourage them to collaborate with target customers and with technology partners extensively in every forum possible, from participating on panels in industry forums to writing whitepapers to offering webinars to responding to market research inquiries. Finally, I would advise them to embrace collaboration and professional development of personnel across ongoing internal and client facing projects to share lessons learned and promote knowledge sharing of data management and analytics best practices.
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