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One thing is common among defense agencies: innovation has always been seen as a key to success, providing smarter services in a more efficient manner, and enabling better decision-making at every level of an organization. Yet despite a desire to digitally transform, most defense agencies face unique challenges that complicate transformation, especially when embracing cloud-enabled services such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning. Keeping this in mind, Microsoft goes to great lengths to understand the distinct issues defense agencies face and prides itself on championing innovation in this space.

The desire to embrace cloud technologies stems from the need to better conduct missions that provide national security and protection of citizens. Digital transformation, even in the context of budgetary restraints, represents an opportunity to invest in more capable and efficient operations. Operational readiness, for example, is one area where digital transformation can help militaries deploy systems and personnel at higher, more sustainable rates. Imagine cloud-enabled AI tools monitoring the performance of vehicles, planes, and ships, providing insights and ensuring the highest possible mission capable rate of defense systems.

Today’s military assets are information systems and each generates a massive amount of data, up to a terabyte of operations and maintenance data in a single sortie or more. Without digital transformation, much of this data can remain untapped thus limiting potential gains. Modern, digital solutions can support tremendous growth for defense agencies and help alleviate budgetary pressure by maximizing resources and supporting more informed decisions. Using AI and machine learning-based analytics to analyze this data and apply insights to cost and performance models, defense agencies can increase readiness to effectively achieve a larger force.

For defense agencies looking to digitally transform, another challenge is sheer scale; most of them are substantially larger than most companies. In many cases, facilities, machinery, and real estate must be managed in addition to the huge number of service members, contractors, civilian employees, and families across the globe. It’s a daunting prospect. But, the issue of scale is also an opportunity. The efficiency gains that could be achieved with cloud-enabled management solutions are incredible. To use just one example, introducing IoT sensors on military bases alone, using the resulting data to track anything from access to building maintenance, has the potential to affect massive time and cost savings. For any-sized defense agency, even a small transformation can have an enormous impact.

Digital transformation has the potential to transform how information is shared, making sure game-changing insights are available in a highly-secure context to as many people as possible. Of course, security is often of the utmost concern for defense agencies, but this doesn’t have to act as a barrier to transformation. Seamless collaboration and communication are crucial to helping defense agencies realize a more modern way of working and managing themselves more effectively. Collaboration can be improved and remain highly secure by creating a single identity that facilitates communication throughout the entire organization. Moving to the cloud can help defense and intelligence organizations break down the data silos that keep information from being readily available to those who need it.

With these concerns in mind, Microsoft is driving incredible innovation in cybersecurity training—an innovation that has the potential to transform how defense agencies face threats to cybersecurity. Using Microsoft’s recognized, cutting edge gaming technology, immersive learning experiences tailor-made for a defense and intelligence context have been developed to help personnel gain skills in cybersecurity that can be used to help defense agencies outpace potential threats.

Microsoft is committed to providing the military community with leading-edge technology to help them address the unique challenges of military life. The same gaming technology that is being used to train personnel in cybersecurity is also being used by U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to help injured veterans stay social. In partnership with Microsoft, the VA is also providing select rehab centers with Xbox Adaptive Controllers that are designed to adapt to the individual needs of gamers with limited mobility. For injured veterans, gaming isn’t just a stress reliever, it has the potential to help with rehabilitation and pain management. For the families of military personnel, Microsoft has pioneered the Military Spouse Technology Academy, which aims to equip military spouses with hirable skills for the technology industry. These are just a few examples of how embracing modern, digital initiatives can have far-reaching benefits to the military community, supporting active-duty military members, their families, and veterans.

Given the scale of most defense agencies, budgetary limitations, and the critical nature of security, digital transformation harnesses the power of innovation to create a more mission-capable and supportive environment that supports continued innovation. Microsoft’s industry-based approach and cloud-based technology combined addresses the unique needs of defense agencies to help them to achieve more effective results.

Download the Digital transformation for defense and intelligence e-book to learn more.