Students Get a Taste of Government Analytics at IDB Hosted Panel

By IDB Guest Blogger: Gail Bamford, SAS

When Tom Davenport and D.J. Patil suggested in their article published in Harvard Business Review that the data scientist is the “sexiest profession of the 21st century,” these in-demand professionals became part of the discussion surrounding the big data ground swell.

On April 10, 2015 at the 3rd Annual Business Analytics Forum at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business the Institute of Defense and Business (IDB) and SAS had an opportunity to address over two hundred students, faculty members and industry partners who have a vested interest in grooming these superstars of the future.

The Kelley School’s Institute for Business Analytics , co-chaired by Vijay Khatri and Frank Acito, was one of the first programs of its kind established to prepare students for careers in business analytics. The Institute hosts this conference to make their students savvy in real world analytics and bridge the gap between academia and the real world. They actively seek out and engage with industry partners who provide internships and other pathways to employment.

This year’s conference topics included the Internet of Things (IOT), supply chain analytics, and healthcare analytics. The IDB, SAS, Deloitte and IBM were invited to inject the importance of analytics to government.

sas infographic government analyticsGovernment Analytics Jobs

Government is a heavy user of analytics and acutely feels the pain of the analytics skills gap across all agencies. A 2014 GovLoop survey reported that 96 percent of those surveyed – 46 percent of whom self-identify as experts or analysts – believe their agency has a data skills gap

Last year’s audience gave the thumbs up to our “Data vs. Gut” panel discussion, which featured retired military officers giving their perspective on the evolution they’ve seen of analytics use in decision making in defense organizations. This year, due to unforeseen circumstances, our defense panelist was not able to make it. Van Noah, panel moderator, smoothly shifted gears and reworked the flow of the conversation to provide the students in the audience with a broad preview of how they can apply their data skills in government analytics jobs.

If you were not able to see the discussion in person, here is a summary of the content these experts were able to shed light on:

  • Since this panel discussion was held just five days before the income tax filing deadline of April 15th – and stories about scammers were prolific in the media — what better subject to open the conversation?
  • Indiana University Kelley School of Business 04.10.2015Van Noah from IDB was able to represent the government sector and weave in some thoughts on how the military could better use analytics to select candidates for intensive training programs. For example, pilot training is expensive, so using analytics to identify students who are likely to wash out early is much safer and more cost effective than letting all students progress to the next phase of training.
  • Satish Lalchand from Deloitte has a long history of working with analytics in government and provided examples of how the federal government is leveraging analytics to combat fraud and improper payments. He also shared his perspective on how agencies can get started once they see the business need for analytics and what it takes besides analytics to make better decisions.
  • Eric Zidenberg from SAS has been involved with public safety organizations for many years and talked about how analytics are currently being used on the southwest border to make better decisions on which cars should be sent secondary inspection for illicit materials.
  • Dion Rudnicki from IBM segued nicely into talking about how the Memphis Police Department was using analytics to better allocate resources to reduce crime. In a city previously identified as #1 for crime in the US, and where there are only 2,500 police officers to protect the population of 650,000, analytics allows government to place the right resources at the right places at the right time. The result: a 30% drop in crime.

Next Generation Data Scientists

Students preparing for careers in data science have a lot of options when they enter the workforce. The data analytics talent gap exists in every sector in our global economy. When students weigh their options, they should consider the jobs that support the public sector. Serving government will give them a chance to make a real difference. Government needs these talented, data scientists of the future!

Gail Bamford is an IDB guest blogger and has over 30 years of experience working in the public sector IT market. She has been with SAS since 2006 and is passionate about helping close the analytics talent gap. For more than a decade, SAS and the IDB have worked collaboratively to raise the level of awareness of the value analytics to defense leaders.

Highlights from the 2014 UNC-IDB Strategic Studies Fellows Program

The UNC-IDB Strategic Studies Fellows Program (SSFP) recognized its third class of graduates with a graduation ceremony on July 25, 2014 at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, NC. The details of the ceremony were published in our press release, along with information on SSFP and the Fellows’ Capstone Team Project. The 49 graduates (a number twice as large as in the years before) included Army Majors, Captains, Warrant Officers, NCOs, and Civilian Strategists. While they certainly enjoyed the opportunity to celebrate the journey they had completed together, it is hard to determine if the graduation event was the climax. The five weeks spent together on campus were filled with so many high points many said they were not ready for the experience to end.

Hitting The Ground Running

UNC-IDB SSFP 2014 Odierno

Photo: IDB 2014.

The first week of school is generally regarded as the easy week or the “calm before the storm”; this was not true for SSFP. Top IDB faculty used the first week of class to build the foundation of the strategic thinking and national security curriculum.  That Friday they were granted a unique opportunity to talk candidly with one of their own. On June 27th U.S. Army’s 38th Chief of Staff General Raymond Odierno held an intimate conversation with the students. He spoke to them about the development of the force and how promotional boards are conducted, a topic very important to them as the Army faces downsizing. He stressed how critical education will be as they move forward and work to maintain readiness with small numbers.  Students were able to ask General Odierno questions about current issues, such as regional alignment, and the rationale behind Army leadership’s decisions.

 The Ties That Bind Us

As part of laying a solid foundation, students spent the first Saturday of the program engaged in academic and service activities outside of the classroom. These events facilitated extraordinarily strong, life-long bonds within the 2014 class of Fellows which proved critical to their success in the program.

UNC-IDB SSFP 2014 Students at the Guilford Courthouse Battle Ride.

Photo: IDB 2014.

Twenty-nine students attended the Guilford Courthouse Battle Ride led by the Chair of the Curriculum in Peace, War, and Defense at UNC-Chapel Hill, Dr. Wayne Lee and drove down to Greensboro, NC early Saturday morning to walk the trails of the historic Revolutionary War battle and understand the significance of the 1781 Battle at Guilford Courthouse.  With fresh perspectives from the week’s academic sessions, the students recognized the decisions made on the battlefield impacted the greater strategies of both sides during the Revolutionary War.


UNC-IDB SSFP 2014 Students at the Jim Wall Challenge Course.

Photo: IDB 2014.

The remaining twenty students traveled to the campus of North Carolina State University to conduct a service project at the Jim Wall Challenge Course.  In partnership with the U.S. Veteran Corps, the Fellows assisted in beautification projects for a Wounded Warrior Project event this fall at the course.  Service to others is a crucial component of being a great leader and these students were given the opportunity to not only give back, but to give back to their own military community.

 Corporate Visits – Charlotte

The IDB is in a unique position in that its able to bring together the worlds of defense and business.  This is what sets the UNC-IDB SSFP curriculum apart – the emphasis on developing not only the strategic thinking but also the executive skills of these young leaders.  For the past three years, the Fellows have traveled to local North Carolina based private sector organizations to hear more on how the private sector overcomes similar challenges.  This year, the SSFP group traveled to Charlotte, NC to meet with two large organizations – Duke Energy and the Carolina Panthers (a National Football League team).

UNC-IDB SSFP 2014 Students at Duke Energy

Photo: IDB 2014.

At Duke Energy, the students met with the senior risk management team, including the Chief Risk Officer, the Vice President of Emerging Technology, the Vice President of Project Management and Construction, and the Director of Enterprise Preparedness Services.  The leaders provided the private sector perspective on risk management and various other components of the business world.  However, the students most appreciated the candidness of the conversation. The discussion ranged from the challenges that the Fortune 250 company was facing to managing a work-life balance to speaking about the facets of a successful career.

UNC-IDB SSFP 2014 Students at the Carolina Panthers' Bank of America Stadium.

Photo: IDB 2014.

The positions The Fellows hold within the Army require them to develop and guide the younger talent in their units towards a successful path.  Therefore, the IDB arranged a meeting with a professional sports team whose focus is to do just that (and also win football games).  The students met with the President of the Carolina Panthers, Mr. Danny Morrison, and he spoke on the topics of leadership and talent management. The visit with the Panthers concluded with an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of the locker room, team meeting room, the suites, and other facilities in the Bank of America Stadium.  The core takeaways from the afternoon were the importance of developing and taking care of young talent as well as taking care of the individuals that support and motivate the talent – like the Panthers fans and the greater Panthers community.

Connecting the Dots

During the last week of the program, the Fellows had the opportunity to speak in person with Pulitzer Prize Winner Mark Mazzetti about his New York Times Bestseller, The Way of the Knife. This book was assigned as a pre-course reading assignment to launch the students into the course material and subject areas. The book discusses the blurred lines between the U.S. Military and the U.S. Intelligence Community in the battlefield. The strategic implications of this blurriness were discussed both in and outside of the classroom. The open conversation with Mazzetti included students questioning the author’s perspectives as a journalist on strategic national security issues and Mazzetti reciprocally asking the Fellows’ perspectives on the same issues and the way ahead. This event allowed students to bring together all the theories, concepts, and debates central to SSFP’s national security decision-making curriculum.

Broad Horizons

The July 25th graduation ceremony served as an opportunity to acknowledge all of the students’ hard work and growth over the previous five weeks. At the end of her time in Chapel Hill, one student summarized her experience by saying, “we were encouraged to go as far as possible and were not put ‘in a box’ regarding our potential thinking processes” We hope the creative thinking drawn from the non-traditional, low-threat learning environment will continue to drive them as they advance through their careers.

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For more information on UNC-IDB SSFP,
please contact Zebrina Warner

Stability Operations Book Recommendation: Warfront to Storefront by Paul Brinkley

Anyone familiar with or intrigued by the “wicked problems” inherent in stability operations will appreciate Warfront to Storefront, former Deputy Under Secretary of Defense Paul Brinkley’s new book released in February 2014. Warfront to Storefront chronicles the formation, operation, successes, and failures of the Department of Defense’s Task Force for Business and Stability Operations (TFBSO) from its formation in 2006 with a focus on Iraq through present day activities in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

TFBSO’s central operating premise is that stability is more likely/achievable when the local economy is functioning, jobs are available, and there are legitimate, legal alternatives to taking money from insurgent forces. The story provides an insider’s view of the challenges and triumphs of Brinkley’s team as TFBSO sought to restore Iraq’s industrial base in order to provide employment for the thousands of workers displaced by the shuttering of Iraq’s state owned enterprises after the overthrow of Sadaam Hussein in 2003.

IDB founder and President Bill Powell (L) and DUSD Paul Brinkley (R) with security team in Baghdad, Iraq 2007 (Photo: Institute for Defense and Business)

IDB has worked closely with TFBSO since the Task Force was formed in 2006. The IDB team helped recruit business leaders to travel to Iraq for Brinkley’s initial corporate delegations in 2007 aimed at generating investment in and demand for Iraqi products. IDB also provided manpower and administrative support in Iraq before TFBSO was fully staffed. Most significantly, though, it is IDB’s partnership with TFBSO since 2006 that made possible the development and delivery of 17 predeployment roundtable conferences for Army and Marine Corps units deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan. These roundtables, delivered by IDB’s Center for Stabilization and Economic Reconstruction (CSER), brought together the deploying unit’s command team with the civilian government, Non-Governmental Organization, International organization, and private sector actors engaged in stability operations in the unit’s area of responsibility.

IDB and CSER are proud to have supported TFBSO in its important work to bring stabilization and economic reconstruction to Iraq and Afghanistan. We also congratulate former DUSD Paul Brinkley for Warfront to Storefront, which is an excellent read!


If you’d like to learn more about the
Center for Stabilization and Economic Reconstruction,
please contact Amb. (Ret.) David C. Litt


SAS – IDB Defense Panel Serves Up Advice for Analytics Students at Kelley School Business Analytics Summit 2014

It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who touches the world of big data and analytics that there is a huge skills gap looming. Employers in sectors that rely heavily on analytics have their radar up and are actively competing for talent.  The smart ones have outreach programs and are working with universities to groom analytics talent.

Universities are also quite aware of this gap and are developing programs that cultivate these skills during both undergraduate and graduate programs.  One of the schools that is ahead of the curve is Indiana University (IU) and it’s Kelley School of Business.  Not only have they embraced analytics in the business curriculum, they actively partner with industry to expose students to real data and real-world analytics that give their students a leg up in the job market.

Last Friday, April 4th, IU conducted the very impressive 2nd Kelley Forum on Business Analytics

Kelley has always been an outstanding business school and it was no great shock when Dean Idie Kesner announced in her opening remarks that IU’s business program had just broken into the BloombergBusinessweek top-10 business school list for the first time!  The Kelley School’s outreach to partners and industry is commendable and I think it’s one of the factors that sets them apart.

It was Dr. Vijay Khatri, co-chair of the Institute for Analytics, in the Kelley School who reached out to SAS and the Institute for Defense and Business (IDB) to have a defense conversation at the Forum.  Dr. Khatri attended a joint SAS – IDB panel discussion on decision making in DoD last October and wanted to bring a military perspective to students and faculty.


Photo: April 4, 2014 - 2nd Kelley Forum on Business Analytics

April 4, 2014 – Lt Gen (Ret.) Loren Reno (R) speaking at 2nd Kelley Forum on Business Analytics along side Dr. Kyle Cattani, Dr. Alfonso Pedraza-Martinez, and LTC (Ret.) Eric Hansen (Photo Credit: Indiana University)

The Forum panel, “Should we Trust our Instincts – or the Data: The Role of Analytics in Decision Making” included Lt Gen (Ret.) Loren Reno, who retired as the senior Air Force Logistician, and LTC (Ret.) Eric Hansen, who actually is a real analytics guy  (Hansen managed a team of analysts for the Joint IED Defeat Organization, where they used analytics to understand the network that supported the making and positioning of road-side bombs.)  The panel was rounded out by two Kelley School professors of operations management: Dr. Kyle Cattani, whose interests lie in supply chain management, logistics, and business analytics; and Dr. Alfonso Pedraza-Martinez, who has worked in the area of humanitarian logistics. Mr. Van Noah, Program Director for several logistics and supply chain focused education programs at IDB, served as the panel moderator.

Photo: April 4, 2014 - 2nd Kelley Forum on Business Analytics

April 4, 2014 – Mr. Van Noah, Program Director at the Institute For Defense and Business, moderating the 2nd Kelley Forum on Business Analytics (Photo Credit: Indiana University)

To answer the question posed in the panel title, you need to trust both.

“Analytics can inform decisions and make them more dependable,” commented Reno.  But, you have to use your instincts and question results that seem counter-intuitive.

Perhaps the most potent advice to come out of the panel was the need to establish TRUST and COMMUNICATE effectively with leadership.  Analysts need to:

  • Make sure your analysis is accurate.  Thoroughly understand the data, the algorithm, and the assumptions that go into each model.
  • Simplify things down.  If there are tradeoffs or assumptions made, be able to explain them.
  • Be able to describe the outcome in business terms and articulate what the decision maker is supposed to do with the information you provide.
  • Understand the decision maker you are presenting to and how he/she likes to consume information.  Speak in their language.
  • Develop good listening skills too – so you can add real value to the conversation.

Dr. Khatri was smart to include government and military sessions at the Forum. The DoD needs bright, young analytics talent to be part of its future. Drastic budget cuts never seen before are forcing the military to radically change the way it accomplishes its mission.  Personnel with analytics skills will play an important role in what it will take to become the efficient and effective force of the future.


Gail Bamford is an IDB guest blogger and senior marketing professional with over 25 years in information technology. She has been with SAS, the leader in advanced analytics software, since 2006 and supports business units focused on delivering analytic solutions to Defense, National Security, Higher Education and K-12.

Learn more about IDB’s relationship with Indiana University here.
Learn more about IDB’s relationship with SAS here.

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DAELP Corporate Host of the Month: UPS (March 2014)

For the 11th cohort of the Depot and Arsenal Executive Leadership Program (DAELP), Residency 2 was a four-day defense industrial benchmarking tour in Louisville Kentucky, an integral piece of the DAELP curriculum.

UPS logo

After visiting BAE Systems Land and Armament Facility, the group spent the day with UPS Supply Chain Solutions in Louisville, KY learning the importance of logistics and why UPS is a leading expert in the industry.

The group toured UPS’s high-tech and healthcare third party logistics (3PL) programs. This gave the group the opportunity to see a side of UPS most were not familiar with. In observing and discussing logistics, participants came to understand how UPS can be a total solution to optimizing and streamlining the supply chain.

Later that evening, the group traveled to UPS Worldport, the largest automated package handling facility in the world. This facility processes an average of 1.6 million packages daily. The DAELP participants were able to see the sort, learn about UPS’ unique labor solutions, and the importance of their relationship with the state and local governments.

UPS showed the DAELP logistics professionals why they love logistics and gave them great insight on how to improve the logistics functions within their own organizations.

For their hospitality and help with coordinating, sponsoring, and hosting the tour, we owe a special thanks to:

Mr. Richard Wegner, Director, Government Sales
Mr. Lloyd Knight, Managing Director, UPS Global Government Operations
Ms. Bonnie Blanford, Sales Support Specialist
Mr. Peter Feudo, Director, Enterprise Sales

Depot & Arsenal Executive Leadership Program (DAELP)

If you’d like to learn more about the
Depot and Arsenal Executive Leadership Program,
please contact Elizabeth Cooper (