In brief

In brief

  • Defence leaders today recognize that digital is core to their mission and pervades every aspect of operational and strategic readiness.
  • Most senior defence leaders acknowledge the importance of digital but find it hard to determine how to get started to make an impact.
  • Assessing defence digital readiness is an essential first step to pursuing a continuous digital agenda.
  • To generate momentum, leaders must start a conversation about digital, educate stakeholders and create a coalition to drive change.

Digital is leaders’ business

Leaders in defence are charged with making sure that they can anticipate, plan, execute and successfully carry out operations in complex, multi-domain environments. They must develop, deliver, and generate mission-ready forces for these purposes. And they must envision, lead, and manage defence programs with and for their governments. And in today’s operational environment, they must also lead in the digital domain.

Why is this so critical now? Because digital is central to enabling defence organizations to perform. And defence leaders are beginning to understand that their organizations’ drive to digital will only succeed if leaders are at the helm.


of defence leaders confirmed their organizations need to fast forward digital transformation, with cloud at its core to be agile and resilient.


of defence leaders believe trust is crucial to transforming the relationship between people and emerging technologies, and must be built into design and experiences.

The promise of digital is to fundamentally change how people and organizations operate through the integration of technologies, behaviour and new ways of working to deliver the defence mission in all areas. It’s more than simply ‘doing’ digital. It’s all about 'being' digital.

And to get there, defence leaders need to assess their organization’s current level of digital maturity. Making that determination means looking at the organization holistically, considering a range of components that combine to create digital readiness.

The ten factors required for digital defence readiness.

Leading a digital movement within defence

Knowing what digital is, why it matters and what it includes are the most important steps for leaders as they prepare to embrace the drive for digital. But leaders who understand the importance of moving forward often face challenges in getting started within the context of their own organization. To generate momentum for change, we recommend three key steps that can help create a grass-roots movement:

  • Start and develop a conversation – ask leaders about where the organization is going and how it can take advantage of digital to equip itself for the uncertain future ahead.
  • Educate leaders – a strategy for digital education at all levels of the organization is essential, with leaders encouraged to frame the urgency and potential of digital change, and the value that it can generate.
  • Create, sustain and evolve a coalition – establishing a broad group of educated and motivated leaders will drive advocacy for digital change. This should be a broad coalition, taking in key government agencies as well as ecosystem partners.

Time to move out

For defence, the importance and urgency to move out with digital – and the risks and consequences of not doing so – are real, present, and potentially existential. In a hostile world and competitive environment, all defence’s responsibilities and duties will be enabled or frustrated by the degree to which digital becomes and evolves as core and, crucially, championed by leaders.

Mary Legere

Managing Director – Accenture Federal Services, National Security Portfolio, Strategy and Engagement

Stuart Beare

Former Commander – Canadian Armed Forces Operations Command

Pierre Dupont

Managing Director – Defence and Public Safety, Canada


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