Global Digitalization in Defense Growth Opportunities
Increased Adoption of Advanced Technologies and New Business Models Driving Future Growth Potential
Like the commercial sector, COVID-19 has accelerated digitalization in the military domain, as evident from the many military organizations currently considering and adopting digital technologies exponentially. This is compounded by rising geopolitical concerns from state and non-state actors, which can only be countered by the strategic advantage digitalization offers in and off the combat zone.
Artificial intelligence (AI), cloud computing, and autonomous technologies (SWARM, manned-unmanned teaming) are set to revolutionize military operations during the forecast period. The main areas of application will be to reduce the Observe, Orient, Decide, Act loop, in addition to cybersecurity applications and unmanned underwater and surface vehicles. The various digitalization technologies are interdependent and do not function in a silo. For example, data collection from interconnected devices (IoT) is processed by cloud computing to provide a common operating picture. AI demonstrates the capability to further analyze this for target identification and allocation. Harnessing the collective power of these technologies holds the key to strategic advantages in the future.
In the past, internal challenges have hampered the adoption of digitalization, further compounded by data security and sharing concerns as well as the lack of a framework, concept of operations, and platform-centric approach. While the internal challenges are unlikely to disappear overnight, stakeholders have taken positive moves to ease the adoption process. The initiatives include joint operations networks, a shift away from data silos to a centralized model, and modification of acquisition procedures for software services to promote greater ease. Military stakeholders and defense OEMs widely collaborate with commercial companies, which hold the lead in defense digital transformation.
United States and China are the leaders in defense technology adoption, followed by Europe. In the future, United States and China will accelerate adoption to attain technological supremacy. Other defense forces, notably the United Kingdom, France, Japan, Israel, Australia, and South Korea, will also increase adoption rates. Countries in South Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East will see more widespread adoption of autonomous technologies followed by cloud and AI in the next 5 years.
The force multiplier effect and cost efficiency that digitalization brings about in combat operations will inevitably increase adoption across various programs and countries. Defense OEMs should be cognizant of the uptrend and expand their product offering either through in-house development or partnerships with suitable companies.