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Digital defense: Artillery for advancing the back office

Transforming defense IT with digital technology

Overview

At close inspection, today’s agile, mobile and adaptive front line forces are depending on rigid and slow support functions. New digital tools that enhance back office functions offer previously unavailable defence IT solutions to drive operational efficiency and effectiveness.

Given the current environment, equipping front line operations with better information and communications technology is not enough. Slowed processes and inaccurate data that constrain the organisation also constrain those serving on the front lines. Defence leaders who implement digital technologies to enhance their agency’s operations and improve collaboration across the organisation will better support the mission on all fronts.

Background

The rise in mobile digital devices allows greater networking between soldiers and leaders through the use of communications satellites, mobile networks, devices and integrated apps. These same defence IT capabilities are equally required beyond the battlefield. Intersecting business intelligence with mobile devices, such as tablets and smart phone apps, can support administrative and defence logistics functions for a leaner, more responsive defence logistics process.

The power of transformation is equal to the leadership behind it. Revolutions in military affairs have occurred through innovative technologies that pushed defence leaders to shift their thinking, resulting in military transformation. That revolutionary shift is now digital. But while it continues to transform defence IT strategies, organisations still struggle administratively and logistically due to slow processes, backlogs and wasted resources. True defence IT transformation requires a comprehensive strategy.

Analysis

Accenture’s Technology Vision 20141 indicates six technology trends with direct implication and benefit for the defense IT sector:

  • The digital-physical blur means more objects, devices and machines are acquiring digital intelligence specific to the defense sector; robotics, defense analytics, interconnectedness and new abilities to loop intelligence back into decision making.
  • Crowdsourcing can provide defense agencies with greater access to a larger, more agile workforce. Crowdsourcing can be used to solve problems quickly, and advanced platforms can enhance communication while protecting all security clearance levels.
  • The data supply chain within defense agencies is often complex and siloed. Agencies need the means to treat data as a supply chain to enable its flow throughout the entirety of the organization to get the right information to the right person at the right time. Digital mobility provides more capable links in that chain.
  • Hyperscale systems can meet the demand for higher capacity, higher performance and lower-cost data centers by providing advances in storage, power consumption, server architecture and infrastructure. Defense IT organizations can harness the power of hyperscale systems to save costs and achieve greater scalability and flexibility.
  • Business of applications is shifting more complex enterprise applications to quicker, more modular apps. Personnel are now pressing defence IT departments for the same low-cost, intelligent apps commonly used on their personal mobile devices. This can provide defence IT teams more room to build solid foundations for complex systems, while the operations side gets flexible, fast and inexpensive platforms.

  • Architecting resilience holds specific advantages for defence IT infrastructure, which is often too complex and an impediment to network security. Facing non-stop demands on processes, services and systems, architecting resilience meets the need for “always-on” defence IT infrastructure, ensuring systems are built to survive failure rather than built to spec.

Read additional analysis in the full PDF.

1http://www.accenture.com/microsites/it-technology-trends-2014/Pages/home

Recommendations

Defence organisations are often far less digital then their leaders perceive them to be, despite their history of pioneering defence IT transformation. Despite driving the shift for military transformation and equipping the warfighter with advanced digital capabilities, back office support functions are left vulnerable, weakened by bottlenecks, inefficiency and outdated processes that stunt delivery of information and services.

In defence, readiness is always the bottom line. To achieve it in the current environment, senior leaders must see front line and back office digital defence IT capabilities as equally mission-critical requirements. The battle space is always expanding. The decision to expand with it and digitise administrative functions is more than a bold move—it’s a duty.