(US & Canada) VIDEO | We Need to Keep Increasing Our Technology Fluency - US Army Recruiting Command Director of Innovation

Col. Kris Saling, Director of Innovation, US Army Recruiting Command, speaks with Katya Mijatovic, Principal Data Scientist at Data Society and CDO Magazine Editorial Board Member, about the impact of cloud technologies, recruiting and upskilling staff, and the approach to adopting new technologies like generative AI.

Mijatovic interviewed Saling on the sidelines of the recently conducted AFCEA CeVA Data Centric Summit.

Sharing a key takeaway from her presentation, Saling mentions that organizations need to get the underlying data right before bringing in complex models. Models will get users to the wrong decisions faster without the right data.

Speaking of a technology that has had the biggest impact in the past 10 years, Saling mentions cloud technology as it enabled the rapid scaling of some of the largest models in people analytics. She further says that she is excited to have enough data to make large language models (LLMs) more useful on particular data sets.

Saling suggests that in the next decade, the focus will be on leveraging various degrees of text analytics to streamline the processing of policy documents within the DoD, making them more user-friendly, accessible, and searchable.

While acknowledging the excitement around large language models (LLMs), she believes that the current data doesn't necessitate their extensive use.

When asked about her approach to choosing technologies to adopt, Saling emphasizes the importance of integrating new technologies into training programs for data and tech literacy. She credits Colonel Nick Clark from West Point for developing a well-received “Data Literacy 101” course being used by the department. She further mentions incorporating AI 101 components to familiarize people with various emerging technologies like generative AI.

Understanding these tools helps in identifying practical applications and enhancing their use cases, says Saling. She also highlights the potential of generative AI in improving customer service, particularly in enabling self-service options for soldiers to manage their records and progress. However, she stresses the need to understand a use case instead of just buying a technology.

Responding to Mijatovic’s question regarding striking the right balance in recruiting or upskilling staff, Saling suggests that finding the balance is crucial considering the challenges in finding suitable personnel.

She emphasizes the importance of flexibility in addressing this issue. For instance, the Army currently has data scientists across various roles with individuals from diverse backgrounds being trained in data science. She says that efforts are being made to expand the pool of analytics professionals. Additionally, there's a growing recognition of the need for a foundational level of data literacy and technological fluency, which requires continuous improvement.

Saling also highlights alternative options for acquiring niche talent, such as hiring civilians on a term basis, contracting, or exploring gig and shared work opportunities for specific projects.

CDO Magazine appreciates Col. Kris Saling for sharing her insights with our global community.

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