The aerospace & defense industry: Inventors of digital transformation
October 20, 2016One could argue the aerospace and defense industry came up with the concept of digital transformation. This industry includes the inventors, thinkers, and builders who launched the Transit satellite, the predecessor to our modern-day global positioning system (GPS) in 1960; built the first computer mouse in 1964; and developed ARPANET, the Internet precursor, in 1969.
The aerospace and defense industry has been transforming since its inception. Any conversation about the impact digital transformation may have on this industry is likely less about identifying the challenges they face and more about teaching everyone else their digital transformation best practices.
We all can learn from the examples set by the aerospace and defense industry surrounding innovation and digital transformation. However, the bigger lesson may be something a bit more philosophical in nature: Organizations can never stop transforming if they want to stay competitive and continue moving forward.
Let's take a look at some of the very impressive historical and current technological innovation and transformation examples from aerospace and defense manufacturers.
- 100 years ago, William Boeing watched his first production aircraft, the Model C, take its first flight over Lake Union. Boeing was born. Since the flight of that first production aircraft, Boeing has had a sizeable impact on military and commercial aviation, space flight, and providing air transportation for humanitarian missions around the globe.
- BAE Systems has a heritage of innovation across multiple facets of the aerospace and defense industry, including military, aviation, and maritime technologies. They are proud claimants of old—and transformative—inventions, including the marine steam engine and the technology that informed the development of today's video games. Fast forward to 2016, and BAE is responsible for modern innovations like the Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers and the Bradley Fighting Vehicle.
- Technology billionaire Elon Musk started SpaceX in 2002 to "revolutionize space technology, with the ultimate goal of enabling people to live on other planets." The company designs, manufactures, and launches rockets and spacecraft, and is a technology disruptor itself within the aerospace and defense industry. The company is continually transforming—whether through its manufacturing engineering operations or in its work to achieve its goal of building an interplanetary transport system.
Digital transformation is everywhere across manufacturing, and evident on multiple levels within the aerospace and defense industry. While each manufacturer will experience digital transformation in its own unique way, change is one thing each has in common.
Regardless of what digital transformation you have brought forward before or are working on now, make sure you have comprehensive change management strategies in place. Position yourself well to reap all the benefits your digital transformation initiatives have to offer, with a minimal impact on productivity, profitability, and growth.