Gregg Melanson, executive vice president and general manager of Illuminate, recently spoke with ExecutiveBiz regarding the latest trends in technology such as artificial intelligence, 5G and cloud, and how the company is working with federal agencies to address the challenges of staying ahead of the speed of innovation in the federal landscape.
In addition, Melanson also discussed how recent acquisitions have benefited Illuminate’s portfolio and technical capabilities to drive value for its customers as well as the challenges facing federal networks and platforms as data security initiatives continue to impact best practices in our industry during the latest Executive Spotlight interview.
Gregg Melanson: “Illuminate was built on a foundation of two major acquisitions. The first was a mission focused data analytics company that was paired with a telecommunications data collection product company. This combination enabled our position as a data solutions company offering a best-in-class combination of products and services.
On top of that, we recently acquired a highly specialized telecommunication packet collection company that has added significant expertise and depth in the 5G spectrum for us. AT&T is dropping all 3G coverage. As a result, more companies will be using packet-based technologies in the 4G and 5G spectrum across all industries around the globe.
We think the acquisition, on top of our existing work, will put us in a very advantageous position across the federal landscape. Illuminate is ahead of the curve in 5G and we plan to stay there. In addition, we’re increasing our capabilities in the collection, processing, exploitation and dissemination of information.
In 2022, we are introducing several new products and solutions to the market that will increase the capabilities for our customers in the data collection arena. We are focused on helping people make informed decisions.
ExecutiveBiz: With federal agencies working to implement the latest trends in technology such as AI, 5G, cloud and many others, what are your thoughts on the success and challenges that government agencies are dealing with to stay ahead of innovation to establish the U.S. as THE global leader?
Gregg Melanson: “Data is the heart of everything we do. No matter if the topic is 5G, AI, or Quantum Computing, data is everything. The collection, curation, veracity, storage, security of data is all directly related to the successful development and use of these new technologies. With proper data governance, your information becomes an enabler for new technology.
Without proper controls, data veracity and data provenance become muddled, which leads to a lack of confidence and the problem actually grows exponentially. All of a sudden, it’s just growing and growing with no end in sight.
The challenge of data sharing data silos comes into play, which only compounds the situation. Once trust is lost in the data process, all you have is just a whole bunch of ones and zeros. At best, data sharing is a challenge. It’s quite a daunting challenge for Illuminate’s customers.”
Fortunately, many agencies are now focusing considerable resources and energy on the challenge. With Chief Data Officers becoming more integral to the strategy, you can tell the emphasis at each agency is growing. This is a big step towards success.
ExecutiveBiz: What can you tell us about the challenges facing federal networks and platforms as data security initiatives impact the best business practices in our industry and across other areas like the U.S. military and government agencies?
Gregg Melanson: “As I just mentioned, data governance is absolutely critical here. For instance, the significant effort the Defense Department is putting into JADC2 is directly related to making sense out of all the information coming in from the numerous different points.
At the heart of every JADC2 diagram, sits data. Everything revolves around it, so the challenge becomes to design and build JADC2 with the proper controls and filters. It’s pivotal for the amount of information to be the right information, or just enough, for the person who has it to make the right decision at that moment. Each agency has a similar. or in some cases multiple. scenarios that are very similar and require the same focus.
The data governance aspect is all about trusting the data first and then understanding the best ways to present it. To me, one of the biggest challenges that the user’s have is presenting that information properly. At Illuminate, we focus on solving that problem.
The amount of data going back and forth coupled with the amount of users is tremendous for even a mid-sized company or agency. It’s beyond the capabilities of the human mind to go through all that raw data at speed. We simply can’t do it, so then the question is how can we present the correct amount to make an informed decision.
This is the point where we need to start thinking about attacking these challenges head on with the tools and capabilities we have. Those could be machine learning tools. A machine can absolutely look at the data for you, analyze it efficiently and present the results to the analyst.
These are the first steps in solving that challenge. At Illuminate, we know how to better design these tools for our needs and the missions of our customers.”
ExecutiveBiz: We often discuss innovation from the technical or capability side. What are some of the unique challenges that you’ve seen on the business side of innovation that haven’t been addressed or discussed enough?
Gregg Melanson: “Our federal government clients have recognized that we are, or could start, falling behind in certain areas. In 5G, AI, hypersonics, and other emerging technologies, you can see very clearly that our government agencies are getting more and more engaged in critical areas through industry working groups and forums
Agencies are identifying their concern and saying they need help here or there. Having the government take a data centric view is a critical step in solving the big data challenges they have. I think it’s the first step in solving that big challenge. Illuminate has innovation, we just need to get it in front of the right people and show them the capabilities that exist.”