Defence turns to the market to help shape its digital future

Defence mobility and digitisation project aims to give personnel a better mobility experience.

The Australian Department of Defence wants to reset how, when, and where work is done, turning to the market for help with shaping its new direction.

"There is a transformative opportunity to fundamentally reset how, when, and where work is done in Defence," it wrote in a request for information (RFI).

"With mobile technology revolutionising ways of working across industries and governments, Defence can leverage this technology to untether its workforce from fixed ICT and uplift and expand on its currently limited and disparate mobile solutions; in order to enable a people-centric capability that provides seamless mobile workflows and enhances the user experience for Defence personnel."

The Defence mobility and digitisation project aims to address the current challenges faced by Defence personnel, supporting those in office settings, warehouse environments, and those at Defence bases or in deployed settings.

See also: Australian government is currently juggling 62 high-cost IT projects

"Defence has a highly mobile workforce that is heavily reliant on using fixed ICT hardware," the RFI says. "Personnel often struggle to collaborate and communicate with their teams when working remotely, due to the current mobile technologies in Defence being ineffective in supporting the full suite of activities personnel need to perform in their roles."

The tender documents say that given the limited scale and functionality of its existing mobile device offerings, as well as slow device procurement and provisioning, and delivery and assurance of new applications, it has meant that meeting urgent and rapidly emerging requirements for mobile solutions is very challenging.

"User research has shown that personnel tend to stop using mobility solutions if they are not fit for purpose and they may have to revert to manual processes if mobile devices are not available or reliable offsite," Defence said. "This can pose significant dangers to war fighters through the safety repercussions of not having timely access to information. Both military and business decision-making requires access to the right data at the point of need.

"Personnel need the ability to visualise, search upon, and present data and gain insights from accessible, usable, and trusted Information."

Defence also said the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, which resulted in an unprecedented number of Defence personnel working from home, have made accessing the right information when needed while still being on the move more crucial than ever. It said it also needed to create a more flexible and efficient work environment.

The project forms part of the department's multi-year plan to "build a strong and agile foundation".

"Over the next twenty years, Defence will harness opportunities in new technologies to enable the following: Ensure secure and trusted information from user to storage to delivery; provide users with the ability to consume information how they want to and when they need to; improve capability within information availability and sharing capabilities; establish an environment that integrates information flows seamlessly; and increase Defence's ability to process complex information to enable better decision making," it explained.

It expects the project to directly contribute to technological transformation in Defence whilst providing the foundation for further business process, information management, cultural, and workforce improvements.

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