Disrupting Sustainment Services Via Data by Michele Bolos, Chief Executive Officer Darin Powers, President and Chief Operating Officer, NT Concepts, Inc.
Concepts is a data solutions company. We curate enterprise data and automate mission workflow to enhance national security outcomes. Through this lens, we believe sustainment is barreling towards significant disruption. Sustainment is transitioning from a platform-centric industry to a data-centric business model. The implementation of a genomic mindset, specifically the curation of a “platform DNA registry” and the subsequent democratization of vetted access to that data, will transform the sustainment services industry. At its core, sustainment is a prediction business, seeking to preemptively answer, “What needs to be where and by when?” Quality prediction, and thus cost-efficiency and full-lifecycle planning, is fueled by credible data. Data-centric national and Department of Defense (DoD) policy, combined with data-enabling technological development are advancing the creation of credible data repositories and accelerating the pace of predictive innovations for sustainment. Analogous to the disruptive change occurring in genomic-driven, personalized medicine, we can create and leverage
a “platform’s DNA” – the granular record of an individual platform’s lifecycle contextualized against the records of others in its class. This will transform the way we think about sustainment services. Moving towards a “platform DNA registry,” the sustainment industry will transition from a hardware-based, platform-centric model to a data-centric R&D, acquisition, and delivery model. Within an appropriate security framework, the government will “democratize the data,” allowing approved, third-party, non-OEM defense industrial base pioneers access to the registry. These nimble, digital engineering practitioners will virtually design, validate, and proactively develop innovative sustainment services at a scale not seen in our currently constrained access environment. As is occurring in the genomic-based personalized health market, access to “platform DNA” will exponentially accelerate discovery and innovation. Under this “platform DNA” model, the near future will evidence a significant reduction in full life-cycle sustainment costs and dramatically increased weapon platform readiness. A fundamental disruption to sustainment services is on the horizon. 3
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1. DoD has its own internal industry, the maintenance depots, which helps schedule these upgrades. However, their planning cycle is often longer than the cycle of innovation. 2. If DoD does not ensure upfront sufficient access to intellectual property (IP) associated with existing systems, it can be it too expensive for upgrades later. 3. Too often, available funds are of the wrong type to use for incorporating innovations. 4. It is harder for DoD to find and access innovations from outside DoD that can be used in upgrades. Each of these constraints require different steps to address. Here are two. 1. Congress can change how money is appropriated and can be used to improve upgrades. Initial steps on this for software can be expanded more broadly. 12 / Service Contractor / Fall 2019
2. DoD’s new IP policy may encourage better upfront decisions on IP, but an expanded policy will be needed to solve the problem of existing systems.
Overall, though, the most improvement can come if DoD solicits, encourages, and rewards innovations from contractors that should be brought into weapon systems during scheduled mods and upgrades. Many of the solutions to the three problems come down to this: the services contractors who already support DoD systems are in a superior position to propose, organize, and execute steps to reduce lifecycle cost. The industry stands ready to support these actions. DoD needs to act. 3
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