Defense Should Look to the Private Sector for Innovation

May 13, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman
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The increasingly dynamic information technology realm will be guided by commercial developments, not government wish lists.

The defense community should follow the lead of the private sector in both technologies and processes, say industry experts. The information technology world is changing so rapidly that even the commercial sector has had to revamp its way of doing business, and the Defense Department would be wise to structure its plans with the same flexibility in mind.

Kim Stevenson, corporate vice president and chief information officer, Intel Corporation, described how her company is addressing the dynamism of the information age in an industry panel discussion on the second day of AFCEA’s three-day Joint Information Environment (JIE) Mission Partner Symposium being held in Baltimore May 12-14.

Stevenson emphasized that the commercial sector has adapted better to change and can innovate faster than government. “Consumer IT [information technology] is better than enterprise IT, and it will always be,” she declared. “No organization can outstrip the pace of innovation in the commercial sector.”

She added that internal information sharing helps move products to market faster, which is the leading mission for companies. Using this model, the same type of information sharing would help the Defense Department in most of its missions, she offered.

Lars Buttler, managing director, Madison Sandhill Global LLC, added that the Defense Department should standardize items that are not mission critical. “You can buy it off the shelf,” he said of standardized technologies and capabilities. “When it needs to be cutting-edge technology, don’t standardize.”

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