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People First: The Importance of People in Defence in the Digital Age

Defence agencies that embrace digital will put people first

Overview

The Accenture Technology Vision 2016

The world is in the midst of a major technology revolution, specifically a digital revolution. Digital is now dominating every aspect of the defence organisation—from the front end to the back end. Change is the new normal. More than 80 percent of executives anticipate that the pace of technology change will increase rapidly over the next three years. As these technology advancements dramatically disrupt the workforce, defence agencies that equip their staff with new skills can fully capitalise on these innovations. But as many defence organisations, already reeling from the impacts of technology and the changes they need to make in response, find themselves temporarily overwhelmed by the magnitude of the tasks ahead. Getting past the digital culture shock sounds daunting. But fortunately there are models already available for inspiration. Putting people first will enable defense defence to continuously create fresh ideas and develop cutting-edge products, processes and procedures.

The Accenture Technology Vision 2016 identifies five technology trends, fuelled by the people first principle, that are essential to success in a security or defence environment that is increasingly digital. How will they shape the future of defence organisations?

Intelligent Automation

Intelligent
Automation

The essential new co-worker for the digital age

Liquid Workforce

Liquid
Workforce

Building the workforce for today's digital demands

Platform Economy

Platform
Economy

Technology-driven business model innovation from the outside in

Predictable Disruption

Predictable
Disruption

Looking to digital ecosystems for the next wave of change

Digital Trust

Digital
Trust

Strengthening customer relationships through ethics and security

Trend 1

Intelligent Automation
The essential new co-worker for the digital age

Powered by artificial intelligence, the next wave of intelligent automation solutions will gather unprecedented amounts of data from disparate systems and create solutions that fundamentally change the defence organisation, as well as what it does and how it does it.

Defence organisations can expect to see unmanned physical solutions as well as unmanned automated, cyber and virtual solutions. For example, artificial intelligence can predict, observe and sense incidents from big data that human intelligence or signal intelligence methods are unable to detect.

Digital also opens up the potential for machine learning or artificial intelligence to “weaponise” data—increasing volumes of data, and the capability to manage it—is a growing challenge for defence organisations. Predictive analytics can help defense organizations gain swift outcomes. Advanced analytics can help defence organisations to enhance military capability as well as take mission support efficiency up to the next level.

Digital solutions are also being used to align the interaction between warfighters and defence with the current expectations of digitally savvy millennials. As warfighter services and mission processes are becoming more intelligent, digital, interactive and automated, the military capability can benefit significantly from technology evolution.


Trend 2


Trend 2

Liquid Workforce
Building the workforce for today’s digital demands

Increasingly, today’s defence organisations are challenged by attracting and retaining the right talent. Digital technologies have changed how the military workforce operates. Rapid innovation demands continuous learning and re-skilling. Growing automation and robotics reduce the need for less qualified personnel. Digital situational awareness and command and control systems means decision making can happen faster and more comprehensively at the frontline of military operations. Such developments require highly qualified, digitally savvy and flexible personnel. Managing this new talent also needs a predictive approach, as the impact of new technologies on skills and workforce structure must be understood early enough to plan accordingly.

With many armed forces serving in operations internationally, a high degree of flexibility is needed around not only the staffing of soldiers but also the training required to multi-skill and reskill the military workforce within short time periods. For example, many military personnel may find themselves working out in the field with digitally controlled weapon systems, sophisticated command and control systems and complex IT applications. Increasingly, they will be equipped with handheld devices, sensor capabilities and all kinds of digital assistants that support the sharing and receiving of information “on-the-move.”

A next generation of digitally savvy staff is required; yet typically, these millennials do not wish to commit to standard, long term work contracts. Millennials are seeking out jobs that combine exciting challenges, excellent qualification programmes, and flexible career paths. In future, to meet these demands and build a liquid workforce, military leaders will need to consider new digital tools, systems, and workforce management approaches.

Millennials are seeking out jobs that combine exciting challenges, excellent qualification programmes, and flexible career paths.

Trend 3

The Platform Economy

The Platform Economy
Technology-driven business model innovation from the outside in

Industry leaders are unleashing technology’s power by developing platform-based business models and strategies to drive the most profound change in the global macroeconomic environment since the Industrial Revolution. This is reinforced by 81 percent of our survey respondents who agree that platform-based operating models will become part of their organisation’s core strategy within three years.

Platform-centric operating models and strategies are being considered in many defence organisations across the world. In the United Kingdom, the Ministry of Defence unveiled a new initiative to overhaul the department’s information, communications and technology capabilities. Known as “defence-as-a-platform’” the vision involves the department moving from multiple silo’ed systems with duplicate functions to a unified, common architecture supporting all end user services.

Trend 4

Predictable Disruption

Predictable Disruption
Looking to digital ecosystems for the next wave of change

Fast-emerging digital ecosystems are creating the foundation for the next big wave of enterprise disruptions by straddling markets and blurring industry boundaries; forward-thinking leaders can proactively predict these ecosystem trajectories to gain a competitive advantage.

Established defence organisations can no longer rely on their traditional way of doing things. They must draw on different ecosystems to provide new services—whether that is social media, artificial intelligence, connected ecosystems, connected services, smarter machines, or intelligent processing capabilities. Within a few decades, machine intelligence will surpass human intelligence and technology investments lifecycles are shortening—requiring more frequent re-investments or midlife upgrades. As a result, defence organisations need to re-align their technology strategies, and speed up procurement and development cycles.

81% of survey respondents are already recognising significant or moderate ecosystem disruption in their industry.

Trend 5

Digital Trust

Digital Trust
Strengthening customer relationships through ethics and security

To gain the trust of individuals, ecosystems and regulators in this new landscape, defence organisations must recognise that better security, on its own, will not be enough. The question of how to build trust in a digital environment is highly relevant to defence organisations. Whether pursuing data security outcomes—taking advantage of cybersecurity awareness or training of military personnel—or collaborating with other countries, defence organisations must continue to work in a secure way as the digital world evolves. Data integrity, quality and accuracy is vital for situational awareness. Defence organisations need to carefully assess how they can secure not only the identity but also the access of a warfighter in a digital environment, whether from headquarters or the field. As the number of digital devices increase and as operations are more dependent on those digital devices, security, trust and reliability are evermore critical.

Defence leaders may be investing in digital technologies, but due to a lack of trust they are not adopting them quickly enough. Even though there are moves to embrace the private cloud, there is a suspicion about the public cloud—a reluctance to entrust military data outside of the defence organisation’s own four walls. Embracing mobility and employing a liquid workforce requires new thinking around being able to trust in the integrity of data received and shared. There will always be a need for multiple security levels which means there is an added complexity to gaining digital trust.

Unlike most other organisations, the defence industry has responsibility for the safety and security of the nation, so defence leaders are wise to want to ensure the security, integrity, and reliability of the networks and systems for which they have responsibility.

Read the full Accenture Technology Vision 2016 report for defense

Trust is a cornerstone of the digital economy, said 83 percent of survey respondents.

About the research

Ready to thrive in a digital world?

The research process began inputs from the Technology Vision External Advisory Board, a group comprising more than two dozen experienced individuals from the public and private sectors, academia, venture capital, and entrepreneurial companies. The team conducted interviews with technology luminaries and industry experts, as well as with nearly 100 Accenture business leaders. The team also tapped into the vast pool of knowledge and innovative ideas from professionals across Accenture, using our collaboration technologies and a crowdsourcing approach to run an online contest to uncover the most interesting emerging technology themes. More than 3,200 participants actively engaged in the contest, contributing valuable ideas and voting on others’ inputs. The board’s workshop, involving a series of “deep-dive” sessions with Accenture leadership and external subject-matter experts, validated and further refined the themes.

Authors


Antti Kolehmainen

Antti Kolehmainen

Global Managing Director
Accenture Defence Services

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Dr. Valtteri Vuorisalo

Dr. Valtteri Vuorisalo

Industry Innovation Senior Principal
Accenture Defence Services

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