Keep­ing the Wealth

Map­ping As­set un­der man­age­ment port­fo­lios

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GCC coun­tries are in­vest­ing sub­stan­tial sums in mil­i­tary ca­pa­bil­i­ties, procur­ing state-of-the-art equip­ment and en­hanc­ing train­ing. These coun­tries have some of the fastest grow­ing de­fence bud­gets in the world.

As the GCC coun­tries im­prove their mil­i­tary skills and ca­pa­bil­i­ties, they must keep in mind that weaponry and tac­tics alone are not enough. A crit­i­cal el­e­ment in to­day's mil­i­tary trans­for­ma­tion is the use of in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy. This has af­fected all as­pects of de­fence, from the man­age­ment of lo­gis­tics to mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions. In­deed, one of the cru­cial as­pects of mis­sion suc­cess is “in­for­ma­tion su­pe­ri­or­ity”.

“In­for­ma­tion su­pe­ri­or­ity” is the abil­ity to meet the in­for­ma­tion re­quire­ments of your own forces faster and with greater ac­cu­racy and com­pre­hen­sive­ness than your ad­ver­sary can. De­spite the rel­a­tively re­cent in­tro­duc­tion of dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy to mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions, IT-en­abled in­for­ma­tion su­pe­ri­or­ity has al­ready made a sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ence on the bat­tle­field.

The ques­tion is how best to get there. In an ef­fort to keep up with rapid changes in tech­nol­ogy, some mil­i­taries are rush­ing to buy large amounts of hard­ware and soft­ware in the hope that they will amount to some­thing. That is the easy and wrong ap­proach. These or­gan­i­sa­tions soon find them­selves with mul­ti­ple sys­tems that do not con­nect to each other and are re­dun­dant in some ar­eas. Such an ap­proach wastes as much as 30% to 40% of to­tal pro­cure­ment spend­ing, and an equal wastage of man­power (which is spent on

Mil­i­taries re­quire an en­ter­prise strat­egy that can guide the ac­qui­si­tion and man­age­ment of the nec­es­sary soft­ware, hard­ware, and ser­vices. This in­volves tak­ing a holis­tic view of in­for­ma­tion, and putting strat­egy at the fore­front.

ac­tiv­i­ties that could be more ef­fi­ciently han­dled through au­to­ma­tion).

In­stead, mil­i­taries re­quire an en­ter­prise strat­egy that can guide the ac­qui­si­tion and man­age­ment of the nec­es­sary soft­ware, hard­ware, and ser­vices. This in­volves tak­ing a holis­tic view of in­for­ma­tion, and putting strat­egy at the fore­front. Specif­i­cally, in­for­ma­tion su­pe­ri­or­ity re­quires five im­per­a­tives:

The first is that in­for­ma­tion must be treated as a strate­gic as­set. The start­ing point is a co­her­ent and uni­fy­ing in­for­ma­tion strat­egy, which con­nects di­rectly to the mil­i­tary strat­egy. This puts in­for­ma­tion su­pe­ri­or­ity at the level of other tra­di­tional ca­pa­bil­i­ties, such as air de­fence, mar­itime con­trol, and ground ma­noeu­vre. For ex­am­ple, the strat­egy should in­clude the armed forces' vi­sion of in­for­ma­tion su­pe­ri­or­ity, sup­port­ing roles and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties, key ob­jec­tives, and the road map to achieve them.

The sec­ond is that in­for­ma­tion must be cen­trally gov­erned. A sin­gle leader must have di­rect re­spon­si­bil­ity over in­for­ma­tion. Typ­i­cally, this is a chief in­for­ma­tion of­fi­cer (CIO), who re­ports di­rectly to the head of the armed forces. The CIO must have the au­thor­ity to man­age this vi­tal as­set, to make in­vest­ment de­ci­sions, and to con­trol tech­ni­cal stan­dards and de­sign. This re­quires a cen­tralised ap­proach with ap­pro­pri­ate au­thor­ity, poli­cies, pro­ce­dures, and con­trols.

The third is that cul­ture is crit­i­cal. Mil­i­taries need to shift from a “need to know” model, in which in­for­ma­tion is tightly con­trolled, to a “need to share” ap­proach, which en­cour­ages in­for­ma­tion to be dis­trib­uted to im­prove per­for­mance. A cul­ture of shar­ing can­not be achieved solely by spe­cial­ist IT groups or or­gan­i­sa­tional struc­tures, be­cause it is more about mind­set than per­son­nel or po­si­tions. In­stead, achiev­ing this cul­ture calls for a top-down change pro­gramme, in­clud­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion from lead­ers on which in­for­ma­tion shar­ing is im­por­tant, and the right level of train­ing for all per­son­nel.

The fourth is that cy­ber se­cu­rity is vi­tal. Just as the ad­van­tages of in­for­ma­tion su­pe­ri­or­ity are con­sid­er­able, so the threats from cy­ber se­cu­rity fail­ure can be just as sig­nif­i­cant. It is not enough to ac­quire and utilise in­for­ma­tion; mil­i­taries must also pro­tect against at­tempts by the en­emy to at­tack, ac­cess, or ex­ploit crit­i­cal mil­i­tary in­for­ma­tion. The right cy­ber se­cu­rity ap­proach cov­ers the en­tire or­gan­i­sa­tion – all phys­i­cal as­sets – and all per­son­nel.

The fifth is that in­te­grated and ag­ile tech­nol­ogy is an es­sen­tial foun­da­tion. The in­for­ma­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tions tech­nol­ogy (ICT) sys­tem that un­der­girds the strat­egy should al­low the mil­i­tary to gather and dis­sem­i­nate in­for­ma­tion se­curely, link­ing air­craft, ships, land plat­forms, and head­quar­ters. In some cases, this poses a size­able chal­lenge, in that or­gan­i­sa­tions can­not start with a blank slate; rather, they op­er­ate with ex­ist­ing sys­tems that must be in­te­grated with newer tech­nol­ogy.

The chang­ing na­ture of war­fare and the rapid ad­vances in IT have made in­for­ma­tion the crit­i­cal fac­tor in mil­i­tary per­for­mance. By start­ing with an over­ar­ch­ing in­for­ma­tion strat­egy and cen­tral­is­ing gov­er­nance, armed forces will achieve in­for­ma­tion su­pe­ri­or­ity. They will be far more ef­fi­cient and ef­fec­tive in their pro­cure­ment spend­ing and man­power util­i­sa­tion. Their sys­tems will be more in­ter­op­er­a­ble within their own mil­i­tary and with al­lied forces and they will be bet­ter equipped to suc­cess­fully com­plete their mis­sion.

BY ABDULKADER LAMAA and AN­DREW SUDDARDS, Prin­ci­pal and Se­nior As­so­ciate re­spec­tively Strat­egy & (for­merly Booz & Com­pany)

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