Fundamentally, the job of an intelligence analyst hasn’t changed; but what has changed is the increased collaboration between analysts and data stewards and operators, according to a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) official who talked this week about the ongoing evolution of that collaboration.
At the heart of their mission, explained Linda Weissgold, deputy director for analysis at the CIA, analysts are trying to deliver objective assessments about the world in a way that is easily absorbed.
To execute this task more effectively, the agency has taken a more cohesive approach which includes increasing collaboration efforts across CIA.
“We are all coming together in a much more cohesive fashion to try and address everything from China to technology,” Weissgold said during a virtual event hosted by the Intelligence and National Security Alliance on Jan 24.
Weissgold clarified that this cohesive approach doesn’t mean doing other analysts’ work, but instead involves “offering support to each other chiefly by exchanging information and ideas.”
This approach, she explained, has improved CIA analysis and operations without undermining either the objectivity of the analysis or the security of the operations.
This approach in operations has also helped gather insight from data sets the agency collects, she said. Previously, analysts managed and gathered insight from databases they constructed, which wasn’t as effective an approach.
“Before, we had silos of data and information, and there was not a lot of conversation or collaboration going on,” Weissgold said. “Now we have whole teams of data scientists and analysts who help us to swim in the data without drowning and trying to develop insights out of that.”
In addition, Weissgold spoke about the changing nature of the workforce, and how the agency has increased recruiting efforts for not just analytical thinkers but digitally-savvy individuals.
“The current workforce includes individuals who are experts in operating new and emerging technology, and we have started to increase our efforts to recruit those kinds of individuals because we want a well-rounded team with individuals with a wide range of expertise,” she said.
“We hire folks with all kinds of expertise, but we’re also looking for people who have all kinds of perspectives and think differently to have those honest conversations where we can challenge each other is part of this,” she concluded.