Digital Transformation Crossroads: The DoD, Technology, and Readiness

Written By: Dave Robbins
  • 9/9/2020
  • Read Time : 3 mins
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The US Department of Defense declares its enduring mission, “to provide combat-credible military forces needed to deter war and protect the security of our nation.” With the world’s largest, most complex service supply chains to manage, it’s no surprise the DoD seeks out all possible innovations to improve readiness. Their forces are enhanced at an increasing pace through science, technology, and software innovation.

How can the US armed services endure the forces of digital transformation? Simply put, through technology. Several bedrock technologies contribute significant gains in warfighter readiness. Service supply chain optimization remains the cornerstone of their decree to maximize readiness.

Digital Transformation

The DoD is not immune to the technology-based waves of digital transformation radically changing civilian businesses and economies. The impact is felt extensively within the industry sectors of the DoD, & DoD OEMs managing Performance-Based Logistics (PBL) with the military and foreign-friendly warfighters. Strategic modernization is a significant part of their strategy to maximize warfighter readiness, a persistent, principal goal.

As the military modernizes its technology infrastructure, people, process, and data rationalization, they must remain vigilant not to get caught up in the whirlwind of buzz words and tech trends. There is so much buzz now around cloud IL,5,6 cloud capability, AI/ML/IoT, Digital Twins with AR/VR, predictive maintenance, and on and on. For a good reason, since the use cases for these technologies are so compelling to the Aerospace & Defense sectors. For enduring impact, though, we need to take advantage of bedrock technologies, including SPM, MRO, ERP, and PLM. Ensuring these four technology pillars are stable, modern, and strengthened delivers not only significant benefits now but also creates the bedrock foundation needed for new projects to capitalize on the emerging technologies.

Bedrock DoD Service Supply Chain Systems:   Emerging Technologies:
  • Service Parts Management (SPM)
 
  • Machine Learning (ML)
  • Maintain, Repair, Overhaul (MRO)
 
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI)
  • Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)
        
  • Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)
  • Product Lifecycle Management (PLM)
 
  • Digital Twin
   
  •  Augmented Reality (AR)
   
  • Virtual Reality (VR)
   
  • Big Data
   
  • Predictive Maintenance
   
  • Gov Cloud L5, L6 (unclassified & classified operations)


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Behind the Scenes Impact

The same blistering pace of technology innovation impacting civilian business, commerce, and service impacts the DoD. Leslie Paulson characterized it aptly in her LiveWorx keynote:

“A tsunami of technology innovation is rushing toward us. The next ten years will have more technology innovation than the last 100.”

Innovative equipment emerges rapidly to help protect Americans and troops on and off the battlefield. With these innovative weapon systems and assets come ever-increasingly complex service supply chain challenges. Optimizing the service supply chain is paramount to ensure that even the most complex weapon system is available to support the warfighters’ mission.

Hidden from view are growing numbers of behind-the-scenes data scientists, functional users, I/T technology experts, and logisticians who improve the frontline warfighters’ readiness to de-escalate conflict, respond to disaster, or keep the peace.

Enterprise Standardization on Servigistics

The US Department of Defense demands the highest standards from the software or software as a service (SaaS) it uses. Strict standards combined with rigorous, independent analysis ensure maximum value will be delivered. Servigistics is the only enterprise integrated solution consisting of planning, forecasting, and Readiness Based Sparing (RBS) optimization in one enterprise platform that is purpose-built for Aerospace & Defense. Servigistics exceeds their strict standards and rigorous vetting process to be the de facto standard within the US Air Force, US Coast Guard, and many other US and friendly foreign Warfighters, Boeing, Lockheed, Northrop Grumman, and many other DoD OEMs. Servigistics capitalizes on advanced, integrated, enterprise technologies such as SaaS Cloud Level IL5, ML, AI, Advanced Analytics, all with the enterprise in mind.

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Servigistics capabilities are sharp to deliver Readiness Based Sparing to DoD specifications, a feat no other vendor can duplicate in an enterprise integrated COTS-based planning, forecasting & optimization platform. Servigistics has innovated with technologies like machine learning, artificial intelligence, and advanced optimization algorithms for decades. Today, these innovations meld together to:

  • Improve planning and forecast accuracy to readiness
  • Maximize the use of existing inventory to demand in both SA supply availability and Ao Availability of fleet or by weapon system
  • Budget to mission availability
  • Supply availability, weapon system availability, and metrics for improved decision making
  • Minimize order and Item Manager disruptions with exception management
  • Harmonize global mission demands with supply throughout the entire organization

For 20+ years, I have worked with many US DOD clients, Foreign Friendly warfighters, and Homeland Security organizations. We have been talking about the vision of sense and respond capabilities in global supply chains for years. The technology is here today that enables modern supply chains to realize that vision with bedrock technologies and emerging technologies.

Within the DoD’s complex supply chain are extensive sources of data, often siloed by organization. Modern technology innovations help uncover the value of understanding, rationalizing, and taking action with this data. It is crucial to understand the use cases by organization to maximize value. Success with each mission contributes to the broader enterprise mission, ensuring enterprise mission harmony.

With a legacy of service supply chain optimization dating back 40 years, Servigistics is the outcome of over $1B of investment and hundreds of person-years of development from the industries brightest minds. Receiving unanimous praise from 3rd-party analysts IDC, Gartner, and Forrester in every service parts management report ever published – over 20 years with a most recent report in January 2020 by IDC. 

Accelerating Innovation

Servigistics 12.1 was released in May 2020 and enhanced many features. Performance Analytics and Intelligence module, including the use of Artificial Intelligence techniques to do root cause analysis to identify strategies for improving supply chain planning. Servigistics also enhanced and strengthened its Connected Service Parts Management module by boosting the integration with ThingWorx, PTC’s award-winning Industrial IoT platform.

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Dr. Vipul Agrawal Summarizes Servigistics Innovation Timeline

Impact of Uncertainty

Uncertainty is not new to service supply chains. Planning, forecasting, & optimization systems exist specifically to mitigate uncertainty. When unprecedented uncertainty strikes, organizations need to make the best decisions to adapt to new circumstances. Enterprise integrated platform solutions, like Servigistics, help augment the capabilities of operations research, item managers, and improve the decision making of the chain of command leadership.

General H. Brent Baker, retired USAF, said it well,

“Without a doubt, service parts optimization has a huge impact on military readiness. Technology like Servigistics is irreplaceable because it helps us ensure a mission-capable force.”

With bedrock technology firmly in place to capitalize on new opportunities with emerging technologies, the US Department of Defense is best positioned to accomplish its mission. Technology contributes to improved warfighter readiness, and the heroes who use it behind-the-scenes deserve recognition for operating with excellence supporting the mission of the warfighter.

Expert Recommendations

So, how can the US armed services endure the forces of digital transformation? By understanding the use cases of emerging technologies and how best to digitally weave them together with bedrock planning and execution systems in the service supply chain. Many emerging technologist’s claim too much! Avoid the mirage of market buzz and shallow claims that emerging technology alone is a panacea. The emerging technologies can enhance, but do not replace bedrock capabilities. These capabilities enable sense & respond automation in the DoD supply chain to op-tempo’s of the mission despite the uncertainties that need to be dealt with day to day in the supply chain to support the mission.

With a strategic focus on the needs of the enterprise, we can avoid the age-old problem of siloed capabilities within pockets of the organization. Harnessing technology, the effect of digital transformation will lead to maximum readiness and availability while increasing operational excellence.

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About the Author

Dave Robbins

A proud former United States Marine, Dave Robbins has 28 years of experience in the Aerospace & Defense and Commercial Aviation industry. He has held strategy, sales, and operations leadership positions at IBM, Servigistics, and PTC, providing consultation on implementing COTS software such as ERP, IoT, supply chain planning, MRO, CRM, and service supply chains solutions. At PTC, he has led development of the company’s service supply chain, High Velocity Maintenance COTS solution, which consists of SPM, IoT, MRO, PLM, AR/VR, and S&PI. He also spearheaded a global deployment of the United States Air Force’s cloud-based enterprise service parts management solution.

Digital Transformation Crossroads: The DoD, Technology, and Readiness
The DoD is enhanced at an increasing pace through science, technology, and software innovation. How can the US armed services endure the forces of digital transformation?