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Guest post: IT transformation in the Ministry of Defence

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Mike Stone - Small

If there is one message that I have been given loud and clear from all levels of Defence, it is that we need to dramatically improve our core IT system, the Defence Information Infrastructure (DII).

And so my focus since becoming CIO in May has been to develop a programme to deliver that change.  On 31st July, I published a plan describing the initial steps in an ambitious two-year transformation programme which will deliver the modern, open and flexible IT we need to support Defence activity.

Fifteen years ago, when DII was specified, many of us didn’t have mobile phones and those that did only used them to make calls. Likewise, many also didn’t have PCs at home and, if they did, they were pretty limited in what they could do. For most of us, what we had at work was vastly superior.

Wind forward to today – virtually everyone is able to shop and bank online and social media has changed the ways in which people interact.  We now live in an age of mobility enabled by cloud computing, enhanced security on our commercial devices and the ability to be able to work seamlessly between multiple devices.  Most of us have as much computing power in our pockets as we have on our desks at work. Put very simply, it’s a completely new type of IT which we need to deliver and then exploit in the workplace.

My vision for 2016

Last week I set out to those in Defence my vision for 2016 in which users will have information capabilities that are tailored to their mission, location and role, accessed at the right time, through a choice of devices over a cost effective, modern and adaptable infrastructure.  For non-sensitive, everyday work we will adopt commercial standards and security arrangements.  As proof of intent, and in order to deliver real benefits up front, I also announced details of 30 specific improvements that we will deliver between September 2014 and March 2015, including better access to the internet, quicker logon and logoff times, access to social media and more flexible mobility solutions using WiFi.  Full details of these are available to Defence personnel via the MOD Intranet.

There’s a lot to do, and this is not an overnight fix, but we are on the right path.  The announcement last week was endorsed and counter-signed by our major partners – HP, Fujitsu and BT – as clear evidence of their commitment to ensure we deliver a modern, user-focused IT experience.  I will be reporting regularly on progress, and there will be a further announcement at the end of October setting out the path towards the 2016 end state.

Tell us what you think of these transformation plans.

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  1. Comment by Billy Bob posted on

    Hi Mike. Great news, any chance the list of 30 specific improvements will be made public?

  2. Comment by Air Vice-Marshal Mark Neal, ISS Director Service Design posted on

    Many thanks for your comment, Billy Bob.

    The 30 improvements that Mike highlighted to Defence staff at the end of July were tailored to the specific experience of MOD and begin to address what our customers and users have been telling us that they need from an IT system.

    These initial benefits will be wide-ranging. Some will affect all Defence Information Infrastructure (DII) users and include easier access to the internet, quicker logon and logoff times (as outlined in Mike’s post), as well as improved file-sharing, a second internet browser, the launch of an updated laptop model and internal collaboration through use of enterprise social media.

    Other improvements are targeted at particular areas of the organisation, including users deployed overseas. These will be a combination of technological and service enhancements (such as reducing the overall size and weight of deployable IT), but also raising awareness of the correct ways of using the tools and systems already available, such as password resets and access to more self-help IT training. We will also run a number of trials, including the use of Microsoft Office 365 in the Cloud.

    The intent is that by March 2015, through these incremental improvements, MOD users will have begun to experience an improved DII and we will be on our way to delivering our two-year vision for MOD IT. As Mike mentioned in his post, he will be going out with further details about this 2016 end-state in a couple of months' time – initially to Defence, although he remains committed to communicating his broad plans more widely through blogs such as this.