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Why technology innovation matters and where to find it today

Oct. 30, 2013 - 05:39PM   |  
By JEFF HOYLE   |   Comments
Jeff Hoyle, Director of Technology, Defense and Intelligence Group, AtHoc, and former Navy captain/JTRS waveform program manager.
Jeff Hoyle, Director of Technology, Defense and Intelligence Group, AtHoc, and former Navy captain/JTRS waveform program manager. ()
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A big part of my decision to join the U.S. submarine force in the mid-í80s was the ability to employ cutting-edge technology to accomplish missions with substantial impact on the country and the world. DoDís ability to innovate and develop the type of technologies my shipmates and I enjoyed contributed greatly to winning major conflicts over the last 100 years, both hot and cold.

The ability to remain submerged for months at a time, operate a nuclear power plant and employ sophisticated weapons with a reach measured in thousands of miles continues to attract talented men (and now women as well) to a career in the submarine force. But the country they serve and the world they live in are radically different, and the pace of change in technology continues to accelerate. Nowhere is this more apparent than in C4ISR and networking, and DoD is not keeping up.

Now that Iíve traded Navy service dress for Silicon Valley tech casual, itís become increasingly apparent that DoD has only scratched the surface of the potential that technology innovations can offer. This week I attended the Intel Capital Global Summit. As part of the summit, Intel Capital announced significant new investments in technology startups. None of these technology startups is currently providing capability to the military, but many have developed technology that DoD could surely use.

For example, DotProduct develops high-performance software for real-time capturing and processing of 3-D data on Android tablets. They identified use cases for their software that range from creating 3-D documentation for capital asset construction to documenting crime scenes to imaging movies sets for gaming and entertainment applications. Although they didnít identify specific military uses (a revealing indicator itself that defense is no longer considered as important a market as the movie and gaming industries!), itís not hard to envision integrating this technology into unmanned vehicles and sensors to substantially improve their capabilities. The point is that technology startup companies are much nimbler and more apt to develop affordable breakthrough capabilities as compared to government programs of record and traditional defense contractors. DotProduct was formed just two years ago ó how many government programs of record have produced as innovative a product in this timeframe that can be purchased for under $5,000?

In order to take full advantage of Americaís immense technology innovation engine, the military acquisition community needs to become a much better shopper, identifying emerging products and technologies they can use to support missions rather than trying to specify and develop it themselves. Theyíll get better products for the warfighter, sooner, and spend less doing it ó all of these outcomes are necessary to survive in todayís environment. Our men and women in uniform deserve nothing less.

What innovative technology products have you identified recently that could enhance our C4ISR and networking capabilities?

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