Five Digital Transformation Insights from DSEI

A few of us had the privilege of exhibiting at DSEI recently– the worlds largest exhibition of technology related to Defence and National Security.  In case you missed it, we thought we’d share some insights that are particularly relevant to cloud, mobility and big data.

Information Advantage

Although it was hard to miss the massive tanks, warships, missiles (and sniper rifles…..luckily no-one was wearing their CloudX t-shirts) – it was clear that everyone accepts that the key to success in the information age is very different to what makes us successful in the industrial age. In the information age, the key is to gain Information Superiority via an Information Advantage. Having the best information can enable faster decision cycles via AI, ML, BI or simply giving the right people, the right data at the right time, closely coupled with protecting that information from our adversaries. But conversely, misinformation becomes an interesting weapon – if we can affect the integrity or availability of the information that our adversary is basing their decisions on, we can create a cognitive deficiency.  So, although cloud and mobile tech (like IoT) enables a platform for better information, it also creates a platform that becomes a target. Hence a layered approach, with different clouds, connected to different networks, and enabling aggregate datasets to enjoy higher levels of assurance whilst still being connectable to untrusted datapoint (eg the internet) becomes increasingly essential – and that’s where multi-cloud comes in.

Co-ordination and collaboration (Boxarr)

Back in 2017, Theresa May announced the Fusion Doctrine, calling for better collaboration and information sharing between various public sector organisations and with industry. DSEI was the platform of various collaborative announcements from industry giants like Babcock and Defence organisations like the Royal Navy. But an interesting spin on collaborations is the challenge of managing a complex supply chain, or a complex programme consisting of multiple interdependent threads.  That was the focus of the session in the Innovation Hub by Boxarr who have developed a really intuitive way of modelling these complex scenarios and enabling organisations to play ‘war games’ to consider the implications of various actions.  We’re excited to be working with Boxarr to provide a secure platform for their software to be delivered at multiple classifications.

Trust vs AI and Autonomous Vehicles (NavyX)

Also in the Innovation Hub, the team from NavyX delivered a presentation and demonstration of the capabilities that they are developing.  NavyX is a genuine collaboration both with industry and with other nation states. They’re developing the standards for autonomous vehicles – including tackling the complex question of what should happen to an Autonomous Vehicle if it loses communications? We learned about the relationship between NavyX and Nelson – the latter being the big data hub and aggregate of all the data received from the NavyX hardware. A question from the audience was around how we can trust the autonomy of the AI that controls the vehicles – and it’s clear that NavyX is working internationally to bake trust into the entire system.

People want MCE

Throughout the show, there were various seminars, presentations and conversations echoing the need for a common platform on which new capabilities can be developed and deployed.  A MoD-Connected Environment (MCE) that enables people to avoid the distractions of infrastructure and avoids the often-unaffordable up-front cost of getting the project started. And that’s what UKCloudX delivers. Our cloud platform is already connected to the MoD, directly and via industry. And we’re also able to do this above OFFICIAL. Our biggest challenge is driving awareness of this capability so that people stop wishing for something that’s already here!

Experimentation

Our final take-away from DSEI was the tremendous amount of experimentation that was on show.  It’s clear that this community is shaking its perception of being overly bureaucratic and centralized. There was a lot of ‘Proof of Concept’ on show from industry, and many Defence organisations spoke about their use of Agile delivery to rapidly prototype a potential solution.  There was an interesting panel which spoke of how nation states such as Russia and China have historically been much more experimental that the West in terms of electronic warfare and cyber warfare. But there was plenty of evidence that we’re rapidly improving our preparedness for next generation capabilities – which was our overarching theme for the show – transforming the mission!

Learn more about UKCloudX and how we’re transforming the mission here.