Discover The Possible: Internet Of Things In Defense

Steve Risseeuw

People, processes, and physical objects are connecting in ways many of us couldn’t have imagined just a few years ago. Ultimately, the data from these connections are continuously contributing to a knowledge base unmatched in human history. By collecting, storing, and analyzing data in real time we have the potential to quickly identify and solve problems to improve our national security. The digital economy is enabling a smarter world and defense forces can benefit.

Defense organizations can leverage the interactions between intelligent assets, weapon systems, and people to garner better national security outcomes. Actionable insights pulled from the data produced through these connections can improve situational awareness and logistics tracking, as well as monitor and ensure the health of warfighters.

There are many examples of how defense organizations are garnering value from the data produced by the connection of people, processes, and physical objects. The Applied Research Laboratory at Penn State University has worked with the Army’s Logistics Innovation Agency to show the art of the possible with data pulled from sensors on ground-based military platforms. The Army is optimizing its prepositioned stock. And, the Air Force is fielding new planes where sensor data is captured as soon as the plane comes to rest after a mission. Exciting times are ahead.

However, even greater value can be derived by expanding our horizons and developing insight from multiple data sets including on-the-ground warfighter intelligence, sensor information, and transactional systems. We can break down the silos between data sets and use data as a weapon.

While progress has been made to deliver in this new reality, organizations are often challenged to meet these expectations because of complex structures, the impact of political administration changes, disconnected data silos, and slow adoption of transformational technologies. The opportunity to execute a strategy to capture this information to improve safety and security is extraordinary. Defense organizations have the opportunity to remove IT complexity built up over decades to unlock potential and transform quickly to seize the moment.

Here are four guiding principles for building and executing a proactive strategy to unlock the value from the connections among people, processes, and physical objects.

1. Embrace a design-thinking approach

“Design thinking” is a mindset backed by a suite of tools that gives you a new, powerful way to solve problems and unlock your organization’s potential. Begin your plans to design better processes or garner more insights with the human experience in mind. Think about your wide-ranging groups of users, and consider what will simplify the mission, offering a more user-friendly experience.

2. Address privacy and security

Data privacy and security must be part of every discussion when planning and operationalizing the use of data captured from the Internet of Things. Each organizational area needs to be able to clearly explain how they collect, protect, and anonymize data. It’s critical that policy and a governance framework for data handling are put in place and monitored to block unauthorized access and misuse of information.

3. Harmonize your data

The growing number of connected devices, people, and processes is resulting in a large increase in data. Images, video, pure machine data, and data from handwritten documents and enterprise transactional systems all hold invaluable insights. As organizations develop a strategy to store and secure large volumes of data, they must also enable advanced analytics at both the operational and enterprise levels. There will need to be a focus on new technologies that enable a variety of use case scenarios – from the scripted to the ad-hoc. These capabilities will help you understand past actions and predict future trends so you can make the right decisions at the right time. In addition, they’ll enable you to act in the moment and provide higher levels of capability in real time. In military terms? This shortens the kill chain.

4. Enable your infrastructure

Technology can bring together a vast range of data from sensors, devices, applications, telematics, content, and social media. Assess how software vendors, device makers, and telematics platforms can reshape and enable connected strategies. View them as strategic partners in your process.

SAP places a high value on what we call “co-innovation,” collaborating with defense organizations to create new solutions within the agencies’ current spending limits, and the key driver for this partnership is long-term vision alignment. In today’s digital world, no one agency, no one vendor can go it alone.

To learn more about the digital economy, explore the Art of the Possible.


Steve Risseeuw

About Steve Risseeuw

Stephen Risseeuw is the Vice President, Department of Defense, at SAP Public Services. His areas of expertise include solution selling, strategic partnerships, go-to-market strategy, business development and sales enablement.