“Work That Matters” is a series in which ECS experts discuss their roles and responsibilities and the larger impact they have on the workplace, community, and world. In this installment, we interview Tony Zech, director of the Data and AI Center of Excellence (CoE) at ECS. Mr. Zech works with teams across ECS to drive the development of artificial intelligence (AI), cybersecurity, and analytics solutions for federal and commercial customers.
Q: Tell me a little about your role at ECS.
A: As the director of ECS’ Data and AI CoE, I wear many hats. I support everything from AI business development and operations to employee training and education. I also work on client cybersecurity projects, including the Army Endpoint Security Solution (AESS) which protects more than 1.4 million endpoints across the Army’s global infrastructure. Most importantly, I help drive the development of AI and analytics solutions by facilitating collaboration between ECS’ diverse set of cloud, cyber, analytics, and information technology (IT) experts.
Q: One of these latest collaborative ventures is ECS Pathfinder, a cybersecurity and AI solution that helps organizations prioritize cyber risk and predict cyber threats. How does AI help improve the effectiveness of cybersecurity solutions?
A: In order to effectively defend against threats, cybersecurity solutions need to collect, process, and analyze a lot of data very quickly. That’s where AI solutions come in. AI solutions make collecting and analyzing data smarter and more efficient. But merging the two fields is a difficult challenge! With ECS Pathfinder, we’ve created a cyber analytics solution that can prioritize vulnerabilities by attack probability, risk, and urgency and uses AI to predict when malicious actors will strike!
Q: You talk a lot about the importance of collaboration. How does collaboration help organizations improve innovation?
A: The best innovation comes when different experts are given the opportunity to work together and share their knowledge and expertise. Leaders, especially of big companies, often undervalue this collaboration and look outside their organizations for answers when the knowledge they need could be unlocked through institutional support.
At ECS, we look inside our organization at the different functions already present, and, given our wide range of expertise, often find a lot of what we need right at hand. ECS has six different CoEs all encouraging collaboration as we develop the next generation of transformative IT solutions. It makes ECS an exciting and innovative place to work!
Q: In addition to your job at ECS, you’re also a reservist in the United States Marine Corp. What’s it like balancing responsibilities to the military and ECS?
A: ECS has a long history of supporting military members. Over 21% of employees at ECS are veterans, and I’m grateful for ECS and my team members who assist me as I balance both roles.
To me, my roles at ECS and the Marine Corp Reserves are two sides of the same coin. Cybersecurity is one of the biggest security issues facing the world right now. In both roles, I help people defend their IT environments and assets. At ECS, we develop and deliver AI, cyber, and analytics solutions, and in my reserve role, I actually use those tools! I get to be a creator and customer, and those insights help me better serve as both a director and a Marine.