Skip to main content

How digital transformation is advancing Defense and Intelligence

Two soldiers using laptop computer

Technology is advancing at an unprecedented rate, largely driven by exponential improvements in compute power, storage capacity, and global connectivity. These advances have ushered in a new ‘digital age’ in which data is the most valuable commodity and drives disruption across all industries—Defense and Intelligence included. As in other industries, defense customers are accelerating digital transformation in response to the global pandemic and changing workforce needs.

Digital transformation helps organizations reimagine their strategy and operations using technology to unlock new value. This leads to new business models, culture, and products to improve workforce and client experiences. In the case of the Defense & Intelligence ecosystem, digital transformation ensures competitive advantage in a complex global landscape.

Technology is central to digital transformation. Today, many technology enablers are proving to be revolutionary for defense customers. Cloud computing, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), synthetic environments, digital engineering, 5G, and space-based connectivity at the tactical edge—we’ll stop here at the risk of sounding buzzwordy. You get the point.

But digital transformation is not just about technology. It also is about people, process, governance, and culture. And that, in many ways, is the hardest part.

Digital transformation is fundamentally a people story. As Peter Drucker famously said, “culture eats strategy for breakfast.”  You can bring all the technology in the world to your mission, but if you can’t make it work for your people, it does you no good. In our conversations with defense customers, we emphasize that successful digital transformation for militaries, intelligence agencies, and the defense industrial base means putting their people, how they think, interact, and work, at the center of digital transformation. By understanding those factors, we can bring the right solutions to the right problems. Culture is a key enabler of digital transformation, and we owe it to the people of the defense ecosystem to get this right.

There is a lot of uncertainty around digital transformation. Personnel often are unsure as to what transformation means for them, for their jobs, and for business models that have been in place for a long time. For every organization that is transforming, your No. 1 objective is bringing your people along on that journey.

Bringing your people along can take a variety of forms, depending on where your organization is in its digital journey.

Examples include:

  • Dedicated change-management plans to foster adoption and best practices. These plans ensure:
    • Transformation goals and objectives are framed around people, mission, and business outcomes.
    • A strong communications plan to share transformation activities, status, successes, failures, and lessons learned, all with emphasis on people.
    • Digital upskilling of the workforce.
  • Updated business processes and functions that align with the transformation and leverage new digital capabilities.
  • Digital workplace tools that address, and automate out, common pain-points and allow you to harness data as an asset.
  • Modern engineering and development paradigms such as Digital Twins, DevSecOps, and Software Factories.
  • Augmented, virtual, and mixed reality to support human activities such as training, remote collaboration, assembly, maintenance, and mission planning.
  • Leaning into new defense acquisitions channels and modern bid/gate/design/risk management processes, enabling the industry and the individuals that serve it to innovate with speed and agility.

At Microsoft, we put people and mission at the core of everything we do. Nowhere is this truer than in the public sector and with our Defense and Intelligence customers. We frame every digital transformation conversation around customer needs, challenges, and how we can help ensure mission success.

We have worked with defense and intelligence agencies for more than 40 years, and we are proud to be a proven mission partner supporting some of the most critical operations on the planet. We offer solutions built on trust, with industry-leading commitments to security, identity, and compliance. We offer comprehensive hybrid cloud solutions from HQ to the tactical edge, as well as the largest and most mature cloud partner ecosystem in the market. Plus, we have the knowledge, tools, and experience to help our defense and intelligence customers navigate digital transformation. We enable our customers to disrupt and deliver mission capability at the speed of relevance, with the human experience being central to the transformation journey.

Some of the recent ways we have helped defense and intelligence agencies digitally transform include:

The defense landscape is evolving in every domain: land, air, sea, space, and cyberspace. Success in the modern battlespace hinges on information dominance. It’s about turning data into insights so forces can make informed decisions at the time of need. It’s about secure connectivity and joint interoperability, from headquarters to the tactical edge. It’s about enabling our forces, the defense industrial base, and the partner ecosystem to be agile and disruptive, and to deliver innovative mission capability at the speed of relevance. Speed is everything. You do not win a conflict by being the first to invent a capability, you win by being the first to field it.

This is not just about technology—this is also about people, process, governance, and culture. Digital transformation of Defense and Intelligence is a people story, and Microsoft is your mission partner.

To learn more on how the traditional acquisition and development techniques lack the agility required to deliver mission-critical technology solutions, read the article in Technology Magazine,  “How Microsoft is Driving Defense Innovation at the Speed of Relevance.