• There is no silver bullet to digital connectivity problems.
    There is no silver bullet to digital connectivity problems. Pixabay

The Department of Defence has long recognised the challenges of improved integration across its joint force elements as well as the need to better leverage all the supporting functions expressed as fundamental inputs to capability (FIC). These considerations are today addressed as Divisional, Command or Service initiatives with periodic broader reviews such as the First Principles Review of 2015 which found:

“Defence is suffering from a proliferation of structures, processes and systems with unclear accountabilities. These in turn cause institutionalised waste, delayed decisions, flawed execution, duplication, a change-resistant bureaucracy, over-escalation of issues for decision and low engagement levels amongst employees.”

We contend that Defence needs to address the connectivity across its component parts set against a broad organisational context in order to effectively adopt and exploit the technologies and digital tools available today and those which will develop in the future. This is far more than a single technology, big bang in which Defence has traditionally invested significant resources, and needs to be managed in a way that enables user communities to maximise impact from the information at their disposal and anticipate the impacts of their decisions left and right across the ADO. Equally Defence can be assured that such an approach will meet its stringent, cross domain security and cyber requirements.

Short term we see this being achieved by individual examples of liberating existing data to provide more complete and actionable information for senior decision makers to lead, guide and manage their accountabilities and also describe their impacts to adjacent capabilities, services and support functions. This will require investment in connectivity such as the 5G ecosystem currently being considered and likely partnerships with platform providers to build and bring this to life.

Building on the confidence of this approach, the evolution will likely involve expansion to the approach to mass use of equipment and device sensors to provide more complete operating pictures of capability and the ability to link this readily to choices and decisions in procurement and sustainment. This will need ultimately require a different operating model for many elements of Defence with differing skills and capabilities in the workforce. It will require reinvestment, re-training and ultimately up-skilling.

To do this we are proposing Defence should take cognisance of the eight elements of a connected enterprise drawn from Government and Industry research, which enables leaders to make sense of and prioritise their thinking in response to this future. Those elements are: adopting insight driven strategies and actions, adopting innovative platforms and services, mission centric by design, enabling seamless interactions, building responsive sustainment and supply chain, empowering a digitally enabled workforce, adopting an agile and digitally enabled technology architecture and leveraging fully the value of partner and alliances.

We believe this approach will step the ADF towards the more instantly informed enterprise where leaders have far greater insight as to status, performance and opportunities and ultimately towards the world of a more automated Defence Force which relies on autonomous capabilities, robotics and edge computing.  

Full details of the KPMG report into global defence trends can be found here.

Note: Peter Griffiths is the Lead Partner for Defence & National Security at KPMG Australia

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