Home' Army Acquisition Logistics and Technology Magazine : Army ALT January-March 2019 Contents the shape of firm fixed-price contracts for specified outcomes,
shifting the risk to vendors and allowing the vendor and the Army
to share the benefits of rapid and efficient del iv e r y.
IN THE LOGISTICS ENTERPRISE
The wide-scale deployment of ERPs enabled organizations to
harvest mass amounts of data to enhance their decision-making
processes, a process commonly referred to as business intelligence.
In the early years of ERPs, business intelligence development
relied on a few technical experts working with key “super users”
to gather requirements and then build and deploy reports. The
process was slow and often not scalable (i.e., replicable on a larger
scale). The inability to deliver these capabilities efficiently on a
large scale led to an emphasis on extreme consensus, through
prioritization across multiple organizations.
The result was reports that often did not meet users’ specific
requirements. Users were also left believing their data was locked
away, beyond their reach. Thus began the era of local data marts.
Today, the Army is flooded with an uncountable number of local
data marts, from enterprise-wide systems like the Logistics Infor-
mation Warehouse and the Army Workload and Performance
System to smaller, localized battalion or brigade databases. The
proliferation has led to tremendous cost in terms of resources
consumed and multiple versions of “truth.” (See Figu r e 2 .)
In contrast, in the private sector, today’s self-service analytics
technologies have all but eliminated the need for “super users,”
report developers and redundant data marts. Instead, ordinary
users are empowered to create their own reports and conduct
their own analytics through intuitive self-ser vice applications like
Tableau and Qlik.
To unlock the same outcomes in the Army, ERP sustainment orga-
nizations and program offices must get out of the report-generating
business. They need to shift the responsibility for analytics and
report-creation away from centralized information technology (IT)
organizations to actual users. They should invest in self-service
analytics tools and grant regular users access to data. Then, to
make these changes permanent, they should eliminate budgets for
report development and decommission local data marts.
LOGISTICS IN THE CLOUD
Having completed the transformative steps of consolidating
sustainment and democratizing business intelligence and making
it available for everyone to access, regardless of background or
position, the Army can proceed toward the most significant step
of modernizing its ER P landscape: collapsing siloed functions and
user bases into a single, unified ERP. Skeptics of such a consol-
idation will cite organization-specific complexities and unique
Army requirements. However, transitions like this happen every
day in industry. Companies as diverse as food and beverage and
clothing sales have successfully consolidated ERPs after merg-
ers and acquisitions.
The bottom line is that the Army’s focus should be on increas-
ing readiness and lethality, not hosting software. For the Army
to free up the millions of dollars needed for modernization and
sustaining its high operations tempo, it is imperative to find leap-
ahead efficiencies; marginal changes will not move the needle.
Fortunately, recent advances in secure, cloud-based computing
and storage are allowing industry and U.S. intelligence agencies to
unlock tremendous savings in operating costs, while also having
access to cutting-edge applications in the cloud.
Of course, for the Army, more than savings is at stake: Near-peer
adversaries are seeking every opportunity to achieve parity with
the U.S. in any domain. “One of the surest ways for our Army
to ensure ‘IT overmatch’ is to get into the cloud,” a s retired Lt.
Gen. Susan Lawrence, former Army chief information officer/G-6
who now leads the Army and Air Force portfolio within Accen-
ture Federal Services’ national security practice, said re c ent ly.
The Army should seize the opportunity for overmatch and plan
for its unified logistics ERP to operate from the cloud. Beyond
the strategic advantages that will accrue, moving away from fixed
government data centers to cloud-based managed ser vices will
also allow for more precise and efficient ways to pay for what
is needed. As the Army’s cloud-based environment automati-
cally scales up or down based on consumption, a “pay by the
drink ” model will derive costs directly from usage, as opposed to
basing them on fixed labor pools and fixed hardware costs. This
approach will eliminate the requirement for the Army to plan,
program and budget for IT infrastructure procurement, main-
tenance and refresh.
The business economics today are simply different from just a few
years ago. Even complex ERP services can now be delivered in a
relatively low-risk and cost-effective way, primarily because of the
modern capabilities of cloud technology. Unlike the Army’s expe-
rience with outsourcing LMP in the 1990s, today the Army can
transition ERPs into outcome-based managed services and then
change contractors at any time, without fear of losing control of
its data or intellectual prop er t y.
Army AL&T Magazine
A BOLD FUTURE FOR THE ARMY
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