Humans at the heart of defence and security 

As the world continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic governments and citizens alike are realising that many of the threats now facing societies are invisible. This explains why, over the past few months, we’ve seen an increased focus on cybersecurity and greater emphasis on keeping citizens secure and safe online.  

At the same time, however, defence (and reserve defence) organisations must balance their role in combatting invisible threats with the support they’ve been providing to citizens during the pandemic – whether that’s setting up new hospitals with just a few weeks’ notice or helping to staff testing stations. 

In the race to rapidly build and equip defence organisations for our new reality, the need for innovation and collaboration across the whole defence ecosystem has never been stronger. Defence organisations, like businesses, need to embrace digital transformation that is accelerating faster than ever.  

But we believe this transformation must go a step further than implementing digital tools and capabilities. Defence forces don’t just need more technology; they need technology that is more human and built with a strong understanding of the human experience that is at the core of every defence force. 

Lessons from the private sector 

In the private sector, we’re seeing organisations build new products, services and experiences that connect deep human and business insights with the possibilities of technology to define and deliver new realities. These experiences don’t just make our lives easier and more rewarding. They often make us healthier, safer, and more productive too. 

In the same way, the defence sector is confronted with a new class of complex organisational issues that involve people and technology. Designing solutions with the user in mind will be critical in creating effective defences that deliver on the promise of new technologies. 

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Defence forces don’t just need more technology; they need technology that is more human and built with a strong understanding of the human experience that is at the core of every defence force.


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Adapting to Human+ 

For most of us, technology has become a fundamental part of our working lives. This shift became even more pronounced with the sudden emphasis on remote working during the pandemic.   

The result? We have all become Human+ Workers, with our own skills and capabilities augmented by technology. This intensifying collaboration between humans and technology creates new opportunities, but it also presents new challenges.   

Like many of today’s enterprises, defence organisations remain largely built around workforce concepts of the past. This means there’s typically a disconnect between people and technology that permeates the entire organization.   

To thrive, defence leaders must rethink the way they hire and train, adopting approaches that are better suited to the adaptability of the Human+ workforce. That includes seeking out the untapped talent within their existing workforces, reskilling and better matching current employees (and the broader workforce that enables defence capabilities) with new roles and opportunities.   

This shift requires a Human+ mindset right from the start. This means that every new technology, every new role and every new process is designed from the ground up with the human experience in mind.   

For defence organisations, this will require rethinking their current processes from recruitment through to retirement. Provided this happens, the benefits for defence personnel will be enormous, with a whole range of new opportunities to work faster, smarter and safer.  

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From the outside in 

What does this mean in practice? Defence, in common with so many other industries, is competing for the best talent and the most relevant skills. It needs to be able to inspire and retain this workforce in an incredibly competitive jobs marketplace.  

An emphasis on continuous innovation – powered by a focus on enabling people with technology – will play a vital role in building and retaining a new workforce with the skills needed to combat rapidly evolving threats.  

The question remains, however: exactly how  to adapt the best of technology available for defence. If defence organisations are to keep up with those of other nations on the battlefield and at home, it’s a vital question to answer.  

The ability to innovate at speed is justifiably offset by heightened legal, moral and security concerns. We urgently need new ways to bring in “thinking from the outside” and adapt it for the world of defence.  

Adaptability is all about people  

While some great new ideas can be sourced from other industries, it’s vital for defence organisations to ensure that these technologies work for the specific needs of a defence force. This means understanding how people working in defence will use these solutions before designing and adapting them – ensuring that the human experience is front and centre.   

This tailoring must be carefully planned and managed. For any government, the responsibility of investing in the future of defence and national security is immense. Designing from an understanding of human experience is critical in creating effective capabilities that will meet the challenges of an uncertain future and keep communities safe.   

Marni will continue to delve into the topic of Human Experience in Defence throughout blog series. Meantime, we’d love to hear your thoughts on what challenges do you see in your organisation. Let’s get in touch!  

The views and opinions expressed in this document are meant to stimulate thought and discussion. As each business has unique requirements and objectives, these ideas should not be viewed as professional advice with respect to the business.

Copyright © 2021 Accenture. All rights reserved. Accenture and its logo are trademarks of Accenture.


Matthew Gollings

Global Defence Lead

Marni Poropat

Director – Consulting, Public Service, Australia and New Zealand

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