DIA Espouses Need for Speed in Innovation

Published on June 9, 2014

The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and those in industry who watch the DIA closely are focused on June 24-25 for a sign about the future of intelligence and innovation. The agency will hold “Innovation Days” for its Open Innovation Gateway on those dates, and “in my view, it’s a game changer,” said Dan Doney, CIO of DIA.

Ideas taken from the Open Innovation Gateway that have passed preliminary scrutiny will be tested within the DIA’s Operational Environment. Rather than running a gauntlet of evaluators and integrators, the technology can be shepherded through an integration process by the innovator, and evaluated by mission users, who will determine if the idea answers their need.

“We want to create a meritocracy,” said Doney, at the April GEOINT 2013* in Tampa. “It’s not who you know. It’s not who you can get to. It’s what works.”

The goal, he added, was to get through the innovation “Valley of Death,” which is defined by the “guy with money, but no tech savvy; or the guy with tech savvy, but no money.”

Self-integration is a spur for the innovator. “If you’re passionate about your technology, you don’t want to hand it off to someone who isn’t,” Doney said.

It’s only one part of a fast-changing game for the DIA, which is seeking innovation from all sides – it’s heavily focused on small business -- in its development of the Department of Defense Intelligence Information System (DoDIIS). Change is mandated by the DIA’s Strategic Vision 2012-2017, which sees a desktop environment as the foundation of a solution to the increased requirement of agility and flexibility.

Part of it is evolutionary, as the DIA adapts to a need for innovation, quickly and amid a time of austerity in which the clichéd mantra of “doing more with less” has been supplanted by “start small, scale fast, fail cheap.”

It’s the method used for the past decade by NASA in developing parts that will combine to make up its future space mission whole. And it’s one that former DIA Director Lt. Gen. William Flynn said will help “reduce the time to market for an idea” for the agency. The goal is to reduce that idea process to from 6-9 months with the help of the Open Innovation Gateway.

Another product of the DIA quest for innovation is the Needipedia DIA. That wiki is being used to accelerate the procurement process, and it’s another reason to watch the calendar. The DIA is aiming for its first Needipedia DIA contract by Innovation Day.

Innovators, like Thermopylae, have long worked with the DIA in solving problems such as its pathway to the Intelligence Community’s Information Technology Enterprise (IC ITE), in which more than 400 applications and some 230,000 users are being migrated to the integrated intelligence effort that is the focal point of national intelligence.

Matt Carroll, who is heading up data consolidation for DIA, talked of leveraging the capabilities of each agency to optimize efficiency. He then demonstrated the concept, using Thermopylae’s iSpatial software to import data onto Google Maps and Google Earth platforms for the GEOINT 2013* audience.

The idea, he added, was to use such a platform in new and different ways to promote the flexibility and agility that is increasingly demanded by DIA.

Flexibility and agility – along with other needs – are the reason for the agency’s new innovation program and for the innovators’ eyes, including those at Thermopylae, to be on Innovation Days, June 24-25.





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