Collaboration at Acquisition Yields Long-term C4ISR Success
How exchanging perspectives during acquisition can optimize military tech
At the dawn of military technology, leaders could scarcely have predicted the technological advances of their descendants. But because of those advances, leaders today face the increasingly difficult challenge of uniting a system of complex and disparate parts.
Connection between command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) technologies is vital to mission success. Right now, however, joining different systems works like attaching puzzle pieces from completely different boxes. Government and military organizations have developed ways to connect systems that were not built to connect, and it’s costing them.
One answer to this problem is Enterprise Integration, an approach to C4ISR tech coined by Booz Allen Hamilton, in which components are designed as parts of an enterprise-minded system from the very beginning. Central to this concept is breaking down organizational boundaries in order to consider every system’s role within a larger C4ISR system.
Three important but distinct areas within defense organizations — engineering, operations and acquisition — must unite in order to achieve Enterprise Integration.
From an engineering standpoint, developers in an integrated scenario will be able to ensure that nascent systems maintain open architectures. Because legacy C4ISR was not rooted in the idea that technology works best when it works together, interoperability has become an area in dire need of improvement.
Then, with operators involved, technologists can garner better insight into what exactly users need from their devices. Locking in user-friendliness to the technology of the future is paramount, as well as ensuring that it reflects the needs and reality of the battlefield.
Rounding off Enterprise Integration’s trifecta of expertise, acquisition professionals streamline the process by vetting emerging defense tech for compliance. With their deep knowledge of the processes and policies surrounding acquisition, players in this sector can act as guides for new programs and make sure that all stakeholders adhere to common standards.
When representatives from each of these areas put their heads together, Enterprise Integration becomes possible. And although it requires new skills and novel perspectives on expertise, it does not mean a complete overhaul of the acquisition process.
In fact, top DoD officials agree on the necessity of Enterprise Integration, and it has proven successes in C4ISR.
For example, the Army’s Distributed Common Ground System-Army (DCGS-A) Standard Cloud program was able to integrate 13 different US Army ISR programs into one virtual, interoperable system. In doing so, DCGS-A has not only optimized its performance, but it has cut costs as well.
Enterprise Integration as a concept applies to other areas of government technology, too — ground systems in the world of space technology are one excellent example.
Read the viewpoint to learn more about this topic.