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Microsoft helps defense industry embrace digital transformation

Female mechanics examine an aircraft engine.

The allied defense community relies on a strong defense industrial base (DIB) to keep armed forces at peak readiness. The DIB is charged with the research, design, production, integration, sustainment, and service of everything from microelectronics, to platforms, to air fields, to C2 systems— all to serve military and national security needs. The DIB is comprised of a diverse set of companies, including prime contractors who frequently act as Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), to systems integrators, to subcontractors and specialty manufacturers of all shapes and sizes.

The DIB is vital to the health and well-being of the global defense community, and the products and services provided by the DIB are essential to maintaining both a strong national security and economic security posture. Considering the DIB’s position in the global defense community, they are playing a starring role in the upcoming Pacific Future Forum and will join Microsoft and many world leaders to discuss the most pressing global challenges of today, and how we can partner to help solve them. We hope you will register to join us.

Mission assurance and the evolving threat landscape

Mission assurance is core to the DIB mission. There is a very strong sense of purpose within the DIB, and their work matters. Deployed products and capabilities need to work correctly the first time, and every time— with no exceptions. Lives quite literally depend on it.

As the national security landscape evolves, the defense industry faces an evolving set of challenges. The pandemic disrupted global supply chains and brought attention to capacity issues and vulnerabilities capable of disrupting the production and delivery of critical defense products. Bad actors wield cyber tactics as a means of infiltrating the defense supply base, resulting in new exploits, decreased advantage, and compromised mission assurance. And as the workplace moves increasingly hybrid, companies are changing the way they work— including changing the way that products are designed, manufactured, inspected, packaged, and delivered.

These are significant challenges, to be sure. But in great challenge lies great opportunity, and there has never been a better time for change. Many DIB members are now embarking on digital transformation initiatives to address these challenges head-on and make themselves more agile, innovative, secure, and responsive in the face of a rapidly evolving national security landscape. Microsoft is proud to be a partner in this transformation.

An evolving DIB for evolving times

As technology advances and the theater and character of conflict evolves, we have seen the DIB expand to additionally include “Big Tech” and also smaller, more commercially-aligned Independent Software Vendors (ISVs). This DIB partnership with technology companies is vital for injecting rapid innovation into the defense stack, and it allows defense and intelligence customers to take advantage of commoditized technology at the speed of relevance. And this, of course, is a key objective for any digital transformation effort.

Here at Microsoft, we are proud to be a trusted mission partner to the Defense Industrial Base. Recent examples include a partnership with Thales to deploy the Nexium Defence Cloud Edge, a cloud-enabled, mission-ready capability enabling joint force and coalition operations to operate effectively, in a disconnected environment at the tactical edge. We are also working with Lockheed Martin to employ digital engineering methods and Mixed Reality capabilities to build the next-generation NASA Orion spacecraft. And we are partnering with the DIB and defense customers alike to stand up software factories for defense, which are changing the game for the delivery of new, innovative mission capability at speed.

We are no longer just serving up technology as a “sell to” vendor to the DIB, but are now actively engaged as a “sell with” and “sell through” partner, teaming with DIB members on pursuits and joint go-to-market offerings to bring incredible new mission capability to the global defense & intelligence community.

Equally exciting is the push for digital transformation within the defense community, with DIB members embracing digital engineering, digital twin, open architectures, and modern dev and manufacturing methods to not just build better systems, but to build systems, better. This generates incredible efficiencies for DIB companies, and also results in more rapid innovation cycles to get the highest-value, most-needed mission capabilities deployed “at the speed of relevance,” i.e., within hours, days, and weeks, rather than years and decades.

Microsoft as a trusted partner to the DIB

In every case, our goal is to work with defense enterprises as a trusted mission partner. We are proud to support the DIB in adapting to a changing national security, supply chain, technology, and acquisitions landscape. We support them in leveraging data as an asset, modernizing their processes, and growing their business through transformation initiatives.

To learn more, visit the Microsoft Defense and Intelligence hub, where we share real-world examples of recent DIB partnerships. And again, we hope you will join us for the upcoming Pacific Future Forum. This event serves as a platform to debate some of the most pressing global challenges of today, and how the DIB, ISVs, and Big Tech can partner to help solve them.