In this role, the State Department and intelligence community veteran works to help agencies in the defense and intelligence arenas manage their missions.
Her career in government services includes a public affairs role for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, where she served as the lead media representative for ODNI’s research arm, the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Agency.
In this conversation with ExecutiveBiz, Montgomery overviews her past year at SAP NS2 and discusses the subsidiary’s work with government clients to implement SAP’s flagship HANA technology in their enterprises.
She also traces her career trajectory through the State Department and ODNI, how her experiences there serve her now and offers her views on the U.S.’ place in technological innovation worldwide.
Cherreka Montgomery: My focus every day is to listen to our customers to understand their needs and to be a proponent of new solutions that advance the U.S national security mission. Our national security community, like any other business, has a bottom line, and it’s not just dollars and cents – it’s how efficiently they are executing their mission.
Given the austere budget environment that this community has to deal with, there are considerable challenges to achieving that mission. So our national security community looks to companies like NS2 to put forward new solutions and creative business models that will help them streamline and turbocharge their mission.
As an independent U.S. subsidiary of SAP, NS2 leverages the world‑class technologies that SAP customers are running across the globe, and we tailor them to the mission requirements of the U.S. national security community. For example, SAP HANA, our “in-memory,” real‑time data platform, is the result of massive investment by SAP and its partners.
This is the fastest growing solution in SAP’s 40-year history, already deployed in over 1,000 of the world’s top companies. Without getting into the technical details, HANA allows organizations to run their computing operations thousands of times faster than traditional data platforms: data computations, predictive modeling, and data discoveries.
And so with SAP solutions, provided by NS2, the U.S. national security community can perform its missions much faster and more efficiently, which is crucial to saving lives and staying on top of emerging crises.
J.P. Morgan published a recent report that said SAP HANA is about 18 months ahead of anything like it in the technology field, so we hold a very unique advantage.
HANA also enhances the speed of data analytics and data discovery. A key question for those of us in the national security community today is how do you deal with the growing mountains of data — the data that is stored in legacy systems, as well as new sources of data including social media?
How do you integrate it, and how do you give mission staff and analysts access to this information in real time? How do you increase the speed of conducting analytics across massive amounts of data, and also doing data discovery and predictive analytics in real time?
This is not a “rip and replace” approach. It’s based on open standards and co-development with dozens of hardware companies. So you don’t have to replace your existing legacy databases or systems. You can simply integrate this platform with legacy systems and unleash the capability to do things that were impossible to do before.
We recently released a white paper called “The Power of In- Memory Computing for Intelligence Missions” that goes into further depth on this. (http://www.sapns2.com/files/white-paper/RTDP%20Paper.v4.pdf)
SAP also has become of one of the leading players in the cloud, and again, as an independent U.S. subsidiary, we can provide secure cloud offerings, both on- and off-premise, to our U.S. national security customers. For example, we are running some applications via Amazon Web Services, which represents one of the largest virtual market places running globally.
So I am very proud and honored to be a part of this outstanding team here at NS2. Our president, Mark Testoni, is making real investments in our team and in the solutions we are offering to the national security community. We are deeply passionate about our customers’ missions and their needs, and we’re bringing the best and the brightest in terms of innovation to this specialized community.
With our innovative solutions, I think we’re actually sprinting ahead of the competition in many cases. We expect to have an exceptional growth year and some significant opportunities in 2014. We excel at leveraging the lessons from SAP’s Fortune 1000 customers around the globe and channeling those insights to the U.S. national security community.
I just want to add one more thing that I’m extremely proud of, and that’s NS2’s recent launch of a new nonprofit charitable organization called NS2 Serves (www.NS2Serves.org ). Through NS2 Serves, we will provide training opportunities for post-9/11 veterans of U.S. military service and civilians who have served in war zones. We’ll train them in SAP software for national security missions and then help them find employment in the national security community.
We have also brought on some tremendous leaders, such as former Navy Vice Admiral Joe Kernan, who is just a phenomenal human being and a veteran who served our nation in key positions for more than 30 years. Through Joe and many other veterans on our team, we have the perspective of the men and women in boots on the ground and what they need to accomplish their missions through greater efficiency and innovation.
ExecutiveBiz: How did your State Department and Intelligence Community roles help you prepare for your current role as president of corporate development?
Cherreka Montgomery: I am very lucky and grateful to have had the opportunity to serve at the State Department, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA).
It’s been said there are “three Ds” in national security — defense, diplomacy and development – and my time at these agencies has given me insights into all three. At State, I learned how we can work in concert with allies and partners to get things done. At ODNI, I learned how everything in national security is really about the mission first, and we have so many great and brave men and women who are dedicating their lives to keeping us safe by focusing on the mission.
At IARPA, I learned about the role of advanced science, technology, and R&D, and how critical they are to maintaining our competitive advantage over our adversaries, those known to us today and those not yet known.
All three experiences have helped me to do what I do here at NS2, which is to help our customers in U.S. national security and critical infrastructure leverage SAP NS2 technology offerings to support the U.S. national security mission.
ExecutiveBiz: How do you remain active in the ‘development’ component?
Cherreka Montgomery: It’s really my personal passion. Even before I worked at the State Department, I was involved in programs for girls’ education, health care, HIV-AIDS, et cetera, and I still communicate with many people in that network.
I would also point out that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence/National Intelligence Council (ODNI/NIC) released a report last year called “Global Trends 2030,” in which they listed development issues such as access to water as being national security issues for the United States. So my dedication to development is still a part of my life and career. It never leaves you.
ExecutiveBiz: Where do you think America’s global influence goes from here in the next century?
Cherreka Montgomery: The world is changing dramatically, obviously, and what gives me hope is the integration we see happening in so many ways — for example, taking a multidisciplinary approach to complex problems and understanding that complex problems require complex solutions. Integration in terms of the private sector and public sector working together, bringing in the scientists and the mathematicians and the engineers to solve problems.
I think bringing the lessons learned from big companies like SAP and its Fortune 1000 customers, and sharing those solutions with folks who are working for the national security mission is the way to go.
We’re also going to have to pay attention to development and demographic bulges around the world, but I think we are heading toward a future where more and more of these boundaries that have kept us apart are going to dissipate.
I think the U.S. is going to maintain its prominence in the world. My work at the State Department showed me that America’s culture and institutions of higher learning are still widely admired around the world. America’s innovation and creativity – not just in the IT space, but in medicine and other disciplines – is going to keep us very much in the eye of the world.
So I am excited to be a part of a team that is not just talking the talk, but is walking the walk, as well. We are making tremendous investments in bringing innovation to the national security space. And to work for an organization that has such strong passion and commitment to supporting the mission just makes me very excited and motivated.