Welcome to the first MDI Working Group Communication Blog, a short communication document designed to bring insights and additional perspectives to the pursuit of Integration across the Defence Enterprise.

The blog starts with reference to the recent Team Defence Info (TD-Info) Support Chain Seminar (Jan 2023), and our belief that the seminar demonstrated that UK Defence has now got Digital. The event was supported by seniors from Defence, world leaders like Dr Will Roper (in person), the big Defence primes, Defence small / medium enterprises, digital providers, and the consultancy base. An incredible demonstration that Defence is now walking the walk, and the importance of digital and integration in our World of constant competition and competing to win.

Given the UK ambition for the integration of kinetic and non-kinetic effects, Defence leaders, including Dr Will Roper, had a unified message associated with the power and importance of digital, integration, leadership and exploiting learning.

Throughout the Support Chain Seminar industrial presenters demonstrated that they have and continue to create mega success as digitally enabled organisations focussed on the customer need, with the ability to deliver at scale and grow at pace.  Equally evident was the need for digital and integration in all aspects of the eco-system, from operations, engineering, business processes, etc. with no exclusions to its influence or potential.

It was recognised that regulations, security, and safety constraints are being overcome, with standards be reformed to be fit for digital. We are incredibly grateful to the thinking that working group members are offering in this space.

Senior Defence commentators described a federated and end-to-end system to galvanise the adoption of digital. The MOD’s evolving digital transformation will embrace digital by design and indlude: digital certification; digital twining; digital enabled integration and decision making; in-service exploitation of digital improvements; digitally enabled training; and more. All allowing a better understanding of availability, to get ahead of failure, accelerate capability into service, with the benefit of reduced cost.

The summary of defence ambitions included: increased operational ambition; increased outputs by 50% by 2025; the reduction of acquisition and engineering timescales by 50% by 2025; integration for mission effect, not for integration’s sake; digital system backbone for support, e.g., through BMFS; allied to digitally inspired and supported decision making.

However, it has been observed that this approach has not yet demonstrated confidence within all stakeholders, as reported by a report by the Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that found that modern warfare is “accelerating away” from the Ministry of Defence, as it failed to deliver fundamental upgrades. (Source: Ministry of Defence is ‘not up to the task’ amid failure to digitalise, MPs warn | E&T Magazine (theiet.org))

To this end the MDI Working Group has since October 2022 been engaging and socialising across our MDI community on the cultural changes that are needed to unify behaviours and actions. To that end we have conceived ‘4Integration’ cultural reform principles to enable: MOD-Industry collaboration; support innovation & change; interoperability with Other Government Departments, Allies and NATO; and reinforce, reward & celebrate innovation & progress.  A copy of the issued document can be found at here with the intention to update at regular intervals based on learning.

Interestingly, through this work we have learned that the very useful
Procurement policy note 10/16: onerous practices in procurement and contracting – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
 has been rescinded on GOV.UK, and now points to either:

We will challenge the rescinding of the PPN 10/16 through the Defence Suppliers Forum. However, whilst recognising that there is no shortage of guidance (!), it is worth acknowledging that the Government’s Defence & Security Industrial Policy (here) places a premium on collaboration and transparency and we are seeking to act in this spirt at all times.

This cultural work is just one element of the 2023 MDI Working Group plan, a plan which seeks to add value by: enabling the 3* Single Responsible Officer with the freedom of action, to maintain pace with emerging operational drivers; identify deliver and communicate to MOD plus the wider enterprise MDI early success and a programme of 2023 quick wins; enable the UK to support NATO Digital Transformation; and, if supported, by the UK Government’s Integrated Review (IR) Refresh, harness Open-Source Intelligence to drive ISR capabilities. A copy of the draft plan can be found here, with the intention of refinement based on feedback and imminent issue.

In January and February this year, we have pursued greater momentum with the initial successes as follows:

  • Senior UKStratCom alignment and endorsement of the 2023 MDI Working Group Plan.
  • Shared insights into the direction of Integrated Review Refresh.
  • Created engagement, energy and discussion around the culture reform needed to maximise Integration within the enterprise.
  • Gained a position of influence, to assist UK MOD’s to make DSEI a headmark integration event, with “Achieving the Integrated Force being adopted as its a key theme – Welcome – DSEI 2023;
  • Reinforced the need for alignment by the MDI enterprise with Integrated Operating Concept 2025, and our responsibility to champion its delivery. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1014659/Integrated_Operating_Concept_2025.pdf
  • To inform thinking we have shared links to National Cyber Strategy (which name checks MDI) – here, and the Cyber Resilience Strategy for Defence – here.
  • In-line with our draft 2023 MDI Programme Plan we have scheduled our next event to illuminate the infrastructure, and related digital, challenges and plans through a session entitled MDI: Sensing and Understanding to generate Information Advantage – Enablers and Opportunities. You can register for this Town Hall event via the following link https://www.teamdefence.info/event/mdi-town-hall-event-2/ The agenda will include Implications of the digital backbone; data standards what that means in terms of managing capability; and industrial perspectives

We conclude this MDI communication blog by reinforcing the insights recently offered by Dr Will Roper: think outcomes; relentless innovation; be fiercely selective (and clear on what you are not doing); operate collaboratively, collegiately, and co-creationally; navigate legacy capability e.g., legacy data into a structured digital system; rethink organisational boundaries and expand horizons – learn from other industries.

Finally, real world event is demonstrating importance of pace, integration, and risk.

We hope you gained value from this MDI Working Group Blog. Your thoughts, and additions for future blogs to forwarded to steve.worsnip@teamdefence.info