Yesterday, we launched the Accenture Innovation Hub for Defence & National Security in Canberra. A big event for us, and we were extremely honoured to have the Hon. Christopher Pyne MP (Minister for Defence Industry) officially cut the ribbon.
In his media release, Minister Pyne said “The Government welcomes Accenture’s investment in building a local ICT capability” and that “Defence is proud to have a long-standing partnership with Accenture.” We are humbled by these kind words.
Why did we open this new facility? Put simply – to have a place where Accenture can securely collaborate with our Defence & National Security clients, and other industry members, to rapidly co-design innovative mission solutions. Importantly, this hub will enable local Australian access to Accenture’s global R&D capabilities.
Some of the key challenges and opportunities that we will explore in the Innovation Hub are summarised in the Accenture Technology Vision for Defence. This is our annual point of view, refreshed with the latest thinking from our Defence industry team around the globe.
I thought it worthwhile to summarise a bit of the content here to assist in understanding Accenture’s point of view on innovation (and why we have invested in building the Innovation Hub for Defence & National Security):
Threats to national security are changing at a rate and extent we’ve never seen before. Not only is the geopolitical environment becoming increasingly turbulent, but threats and techniques used by potential adversaries are rapidly evolving in line with technological advances that are also becoming increasingly accessible. Fending off cyber-attacks and state-sponsored subversion, for example, demands the ability to use the latest technologies that can keep pace with and get ahead of those constantly morphing threats.
But technology alone won’t be enough. It must be combined with new thinking, new approaches and a new pace of internal change. In a word: innovation. Leading-edge applications like blockchain, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), cyber resilience, robotics and advanced analytics will all become increasingly important to the modern defence force. But it’s how they enhance and enable people to achieve new mission outcomes and objectives that will make the greatest impact.
First is training artificial intelligence as an effective soldier. For defence, AI’s ability to process and analyse vast amounts of information brings implications across the Observe, Orient, Decide, Act (OODA) loop, opening up the potential to transform surveillance and situational awareness.
Second extended reality, signals the “end of distance”. Virtual and augmented reality technologies are removing the gaps between people, information, and experiences. The results? To pick just one, maintenance engineers will see “over-the-shoulder” of personnel in the field, diagnosing any equipment problems and providing step-by-step guidance to fix them.
Third, data veracity, underlines the vital importance of trust. While transforming an organisation to run on data brings huge benefits, it also creates a new vulnerability: inaccurate, manipulated, and biased data can lead to corrupted insights and skewed decisions. For defence, such issues are literally a matter of life and death. To avoid them, what’s needed is “multi-level security” – which secures every data object individually so it can be shared safely and responsively, without compromising the security of the related data.
Fourth, frictionless defence – built to partner at scale. Collaboration in response to common threats is now the operational mantra across defence agencies. Turning this into reality requires interoperable technologies and secure trusted data flows. Understandably, this is more of a challenge in the defence industry than any other, but defence organisations need to look for ways to break down their legacy constraints by adopting more agile microservices architectures and using blockchain and smart contracts.
Fifth but not least, the internet of thinking is all about creating intelligent distributed systems. Robotics, immersive reality, AI and connected devices are pushing intelligence into the physical world. Successful military strategies will depend increasingly on the ability to do this, both to support collaborative joint missions and stay ahead of an increasingly diverse mix of adversaries.
Looking across these five trends, they all point to one goal: enabling and empowering armed forces to respond to traditional adversaries, new threats, and even new combat theatres such as cyber. But while emerging technologies will be key, one thing will remain the same: the need to combine technology with people to get the best from both – something the most effective fighting forces have done throughout history.
And that’s the philosophy which is at the heart of the Innovation Hub for Defence & National Security in Canberra. Built with a human-centric approach, this new state-of-the-art Innovation Hub will not only provide access to breakthrough technology but also the opportunity to co-create and collaborate across a wide range of partners in the defence ecosystem.
I look forward to sharing this innovation journey with our Defence & National Security clients and industry ecosystem partners.