In an era of digital transformation, artificial intelligence takes center stage
BAE Systems makes it possible for customers to advance their critical missions across land, sea, air, and cyber domains. The company accomplishes this through systems engineering, breakthrough technologies, advanced intelligence solutions, and critical sustainment services that support national security and protect lives. BAE Systems’ Intelligence & Security (I&S) sector serves a diverse customer base, including the U.S. Department of Defense, the Intelligence Community, and U.S. federal civilian agencies. By changing the way it does business through incremental digital transformation, BAE Systems is improving business operations for itself and its customers.
“Through a phased, data-driven approach to digital transformation, we tested several tools and methodologies in our Advanced Analytics Lab using artificial intelligence (AI), augmentation, and automation,” said Dr. Don Widener, chief technology officer for BAE Systems Intelligence Solutions business. “Our discovery-driven digital transformation efforts include Robotic Process Automation and data science training for our employees and deployment into our business operations.”
BAE Systems partnered with UiPath to automate operations and repetitive tasks that a machine could easily take over. “We empower our thousands of analysts by giving them access to tools, education, and support. They are learning how to best automate and augment their routine processes and customize tools for specific purposes,” said Widener. “Empowerment is a driving force for our digital transformation projects. Our analysts are also using, customizing, and developing automation bots to improve outcomes, streamline workflows, and drive efficiencies.”

Digital transformation puts pressure on current business models

Widener highlights two challenges that the company is facing when it comes to digital transformation. The first is related to current business models. Widener said it is difficult to change a well-established business model. However, through the company’s Advanced Analytics Lab, Widener’s team pivoted to a new business model and started using new sales channels to support resilient growth.
“The speed at which we can deploy solutions to our customers is groundbreaking. We’re accelerating technologies from the lab to operations via Amazon Web Services (AWS) Marketplace to more efficiently assist government customer developers and data scientists in meeting their mission needs,” said Widener.
AWS Marketplace for GovCloud (US) is an alternate sales channel, where customers can purchase on demand the BAE Systems AI/machine learning (ML) and Data Labeling-As-a-Service offerings. Capabilities available on AWS Marketplace serve as a foundation that already is accelerating the rapid hosting of additional capabilities. The marketplace provides a quicker and more efficient platform for customers to acquire and leverage AI capabilities aligned to the volume and velocity data scientists need to operate. “BAE Systems is continually innovating in the areas of AI, ML, and data science services. Our suite of AI tools help analysts sift through large quantities of data, signals, and imagery,” said Widener.

Digital transformation challenges culture

The second digital transformation challenge Widener is overcoming is related to culture. Internally, there can be challenges related to employee adoption and culture. “We’ve got to get away from a ‘This is how we’ve always done it’ mindset and start to champion organic change. We have trained hundreds of our employees to use Robotic Process Automation tools such that they can automate their own workloads.”
Widener also noted that it is costly to implement large digital transformation programs; therefore, taking a bite-size incremental approach to roll-out is proving to be beneficial in several ways.
“We all know how fast technology can change and disrupt a current model. The key is ensuring you accept that plans change and embrace a little ambiguity on the pathway when that occurs,” said Widener. “It might be easier to describe your goal, or the intended end state, rather than prescribing the exact steps to get there. Similarly, you may be able to articulate what a system-of-systems must do, yet the tools you see today may not be the ones that make it to the end.”

BAE Systems’ digital transformation innovations

“Using AI/ML and Robotic Process Automation tools internally is extremely beneficial as it frees up time for our employees to do more strategic thinking and long-term planning instead of spending countless hours on mundane repetitive tasks,” said BAE Systems Intelligence Solutions’ Vice President and General Manager Peder Jungck. “We are moving quickly, hiring hundreds of employees for these efforts, and deploying agile, experienced talent to make the best-informed judgements along the way, given the velocity of technology advancement and the need for fast, strategic decisions.”
BAE Systems’ augmented analytics and hybrid teams continually drive innovation. They supplement intelligence collection with the use of Open Source Intelligence & Analysis Services (OSINT) and commercial imagery to enrich customers’ programs. The company’s Integrated Intelligence Insights (I3) capability combines state-of-the-art AI/ML applied to open data sources, including commercial satellite and airborne imagery, non-traditional imagery sources (e.g. webcam, smartphone, online images), social media, and dark web content to identify, extract, and characterize structured observations. I3 is an efficient and effective way to leverage OSINT and commercial imagery to monitor larger mission areas and supplement classified data and analysis.

Harnessing the power of automation

As defense, intelligence community, and federal civilian agencies look to modernize and leverage the latest technologies, success will require being sensitive to the business model pressures and cultural challenges of their digital transformation efforts. Harnessing the power of automation and AI can help agencies navigate a more seamless and successful transformation journey.
Written by Maria McGregor