As we enter 2019, the Defence sector must look to the impacts of the digital revolution on the private sector to deliver meaningful change. In this insight techUK looks forward to the year ahead and highlights three key areas to watch.
Faster development cycles and more agile procurement are needs not wants
As technological developments across sectors continue at rapid pace, Defence will come under further pressure to act at speed, both in terms of developing its capability requirements and also in the way it runs its business. Whilst the well-established CADMID procurement model has served Defence well for large, complex platforms, it is clearly not compatible with emerging digital technologies which can be continuously updated and upgraded.
In the private sector, weekly updates and patching are standard, and with the MOD utilising more connected devices and kit it will need to find a procurement model which can deal with this new flexibility. The days of analogue, non-connected equipment are well and truly over, as technology continues to bleed into everything from clothing to complex weapon systems.
As such, the MOD must identify where commercial practices and policies can and should change to provide the Front Line Command’s with a route to market for emerging and disruptive technologies. techUK will continue to lobby for a more agile commercial framework through our Defence Commercial Business Forum.
Digital Twins – more efficient operations
During this sustained period of budgetary pressures, technology can and should be used more to help the MOD both identify efficiency savings and increase the effectiveness of its operations. Those tasks traditionally seen as dull and monotonous like logistics, administration and maintenance offer significant opportunities in this space. techUK will continue to make the point that in order to achieve this, investment in new technology needs to be at the very least maintained at current levels if it is to deliver long term financial benefits to the MOD.
Perhaps the most timely example of this can be seen in the concept of the ‘digital twin’, which generates real-time digital replicas of physical assets, enabling end users to reap the benefits of data analytics, reduced operating costs, early identification of maintenance issues and improved performance. Implementation of technologies like this can only benefit large, costly and complex MOD systems.
Cyber’s significance will continue to grow
Cyber security will continue to be at the cutting edge of technological development in 2019. The exponential increase in the number of devices becoming digitally enabled and connected we are witnessing presents serious challenges for Defence and in the private sector, with tangible impacts upon the physical world becoming more common. This is perhaps best typified by the recent disruption at Gatwick Airport in December 2018. Digitally enabled technologies can both disrupt and protect physical infrastructure in all sectors with complex requirements.
For Defence, this means cyber security is and will continue to be a critical priority, with new developments allowing the protection of CNI and frontline operations, but also giving us an advantage over adversaries already investing heavily in cyber and counter-cyber technologies.
techUK will continue to work with the MOD & wider government to understand its future approach to cyber security through its Cyber Programme and through its Information Superiority Forum. We will be engaging across the Front Line Commands to enable them to better understand how industry can help augment the UK’s cyber capability.