Michael Watson, chief information security officer at the Virginia Information Technologies Agency (VITA), ran down the state agency’s latest actions to leverage its data sources at Splunk’s GovSummit event on Dec. 14.

From a high-level perspective, Watson said the state agency has been combining a zero trust framework with its data analytics needs to meet larger mission goals.

“We finally are at a point in our technology that it’s possible to actually start understanding what that data interaction looks like, and being able to apply technology that will limit and make sure that only the authorized people have those access,” the CISO said.

The use of dashboards, Watson explained, has been important when it comes to making important decisions based on data and metrics reporting, and said dashboard deployments have to keep in mind an organization’s business needs.

“It’s got to be a combination of telling me what the status of my environment – or whatever it is that I find that the business value is – is either doing okay, or in the line for the proactive part,” he said.

“Something that we’ve had to look into and understand [includes] what’s about to happen or what could be a potential problem,” stated Watson.

Watson also talked about the need for organizational leadership to understand how long it takes to curate and structure data for decision-making purposes.

“A lot of times, we’ve gotten really good at technology and getting it spun up fast and turning things around quickly. That’s never the problem anymore,” he said.

Those tech capabilities aside, he said leaders not only have to appreciate the validity of data, but also whether particular data sets may not be “what you actually want in order to make the decision that you’re trying to make,” he said.

“Those conversations are always happening at the business level and are really hard to pull out of our business. Stakeholders a lot of times, they don’t necessarily understand that,” Watson said.

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