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March 08, 2018
Embracing tension: What the 2018 Fjord trends mean for National Security
By: Matt Tait

What shifts will have a significant impact on technology, business, and design in the coming year? That’s the question that Fjord—a design and innovation agency within Accenture Interactive—tackles every year in its annual trend report. The trends bubble up from the more than 1000 “Fjordians” around the world, with Fjord’s own design methodologies used to capture a diverse range of perspectives and evidence for each trend. Lauren Oliver, Group Design Director at the DC Studio, recently shared with me how this process helps key themes and patterns emerge. This year, for the first time ever, a single meta-theme emerged: Tension.

This is an intriguing theme. Tension is in fact at the heart of the shifts we are experiencing in our technology, society, and government. Tension between humans and machines, between DoD and commercial industry, between physical and digital, and between privacy versus transparency—all create an opportunity to create positive, long-lasting impact.

As we continue working to accelerate mission advantage in our defense community, embracing the concept of tension—and applying force to stretch beyond where we are today—is key to our success. I look across the work we are doing in our National Security business and am inspired to see we are already breaking new ground in several of these new trend spaces, in particular Physical fights back and In transparency we trust.

Physical fights back

For the past decade, we’ve largely accessed the digital world through screens and interfaces. Now, with cameras, microphones, sensors and haptics increasingly embedded into connected spaces, we’re seeing a new paradigm for engagement with the physical world around us. We are pursuing immediate opportunities in the maintenance and supply arena—augmenting the workforce to streamline tasks, improve data collection, and, ultimately, lead to predictive maintenance and supply solutions. Our shipyards and other critical workspaces could become connected environments, enabling greater safety and efficiency. In remote areas of operation, sensors combined with AI have the power to streamline intelligence gathering and increase the speed at which we can interpret signals.

Of course, each of these opportunities requires us to think creatively about how to ensure any new technology is used ethically. We continue to bring best-in-class security to each of these engagements.

In transparency we trust

With blockchain emerging as one of the hottest technologies, this trend considers its broad-reaching potential to transform our relationships with data and information, creating secure, transparent, and therefore trusted records. Two opportunities emerge at the forefront of this trend: the first in maintenance, the second in human resources.

Significant amounts of time and expense are spent creating, tracking, and verifying records. Both could be reduced through a combination of blockchain and automation. Blockchain-powered maintenance histories can support improved repair-or-replace decisions. It can eliminate the need for physical signatures and improve role-based accountability.

On the HR side, Accenture has already had success managing secure identities with ID2020, developed in partnership with the UN. This could be applied to improved management of personnel records and security across organizations.

These are just two examples of how Accenture Federal’s National Security business is embracing the tension so that we can be part of our clients’ journeys to accelerate mission advantage. Two other 2018 trends—Computers have eyes and Slaves to the algorithm—are also highly relevant to the defense community. I’ll be sharing more about these soon. In the meantime, I encourage you to review this year’s full report and consider what they could mean for your individual role and for your larger organization.

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