The U.S. Army is unlocking innovation by utilizing data to ensure operational success in the service branch’s workforce, an Army official said at a virtual event hosted by GovLoop on Feb. 16.

Lt. Col. Kristin Saling, deputy director for People Analytics at the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army, explained that data analytics increasingly drive innovation across the service. “Innovation in the Army is driven by well-defined, clearly articulated, measurable outcomes whose achievement meaningfully impacts the Army’s effectiveness and efficiency,” Saling said.

For example, the Army is using staffing-related data – certificates, degrees, performance history – to align the talent available with mission imperatives.

“By having this information, we can utilize our workforce to its full capacity and potential,” Saling said. Determining staffing needs and decisions for all levels of the Army, from uniformed to civilian employees, she added.

Data analysis is also allowing the service branch to localize gaps in its workforce, aiding in overall recruitment and training efforts.

“By knowing what talent is available and missing, we can effectively recruit for our different mission needs,” Saling said. “When you place people in settings they are likely to succeed in based on their skill sets, you are more likely to unlock not only efficiency in meeting mission needs but also innovative behavior.”

But tapping into data analytics is just one part of fostering a culture of innovation. The second part of the equation, according to Saling, is open lateral communication throughout the entire enterprise.

“For innovation to thrive, there needs to be a fundamental acceptance and willingness to allow an idea forward that may be contrary to legacy processes. To foster this communication, we have seen uniformed and civilian leaders in the Army begin to facilitate these conversations – in formal and informal structures,” Saling said.

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Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.