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How Can You Keep Your Analytics from Withering in the Transition Valley of Death? LTC Kristin Saling Explains

October 12, 2021
· 3 min read

Between its active and reserve guard and a substantial civilian component, the U.S. Army’s total workforce stands at roughly between 1.2 and 1.4 million people. Now add in the fact that Army troops are stationed in roughly 800 military bases in more than 70 countries and territories around the world, and you can understand the organizational challenges this organization faces each day. 

Hence, the Army formed their Data and Artificial Intelligence (AI) Team to revolutionize the Army’s work to get, develop, employ, and retain human capital through a hyper-enabled data-rich environment. 

LTC Kristin Saling, Chief Analytics Officer and Acting Director, Army People Analytics, is leading this team in order to get the Army AI-ready. She recently sat down with Ari Kaplan, Global AI Evangelist at DataRobot, on the More Intelligent Tomorrow podcast to discuss improving talent management with machine learning, integrating better information and insights into the decision cycle, and incorporating artificial intelligence into the modern Army.

With such a large organization as the Army, Kristin understands the democratization of AI is essential. Speaking on her own behalf, and not on behalf of the Army, she shared many insights:

“The democratization of data and analytics is a passion project because we don’t want to be sitting in the enterprise level tower and making decisions for the commanders who are actually interfacing with these folks. We want to be able to push these tools out to the folks who are going to be making some of these decisions. . .and give them tools to help them integrate more information and better insights into their decision cycle.”

Kristin adds that today nowadays, “Everybody’s in the data workforce because everybody is using the information that we generate from these tools in some fashion, or they should be.”

She likens the democratization of data to the way the Army has distributed medical talent throughout the Army and how this creates a “translation from the analytics to action.” By giving decision makers the correct data, each individual leader is held 100 percent accountable. 

Kristin notes that “Otherwise, research can go into the transition valley of death,” instead of putting the correct transitions into action.  

Leveraging data and AI better is also fueling the Army to look to the future more confidently and ring in a more intelligent tomorrow:

“We use 2028 as one of the benchmarks for our multi-domain operations and then we start looking at 2035 and beyond, just because those are ways where we can at least frame the story that we need to tell in order to get people thinking about this.”

All levels of the Army are also benefiting by using DataRobot and other applications:

“We can really empower the folks who aren’t coders necessarily to be able to do some hypothesis generation and see what kind of models they can pull from data. . .(and) in the people space we have Army Vantage, the Army Leader Dashboard, we have the Integrated Pay and Personnel System Army coming out for the active component.” 

Kristin Saling: Building the Army’s Data Workforce
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