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The world of aerospace and defense has become increasing complex for business development leaders. From mergers leading to more teams, products, and services across multiple companies and continents, to disparate data across multiple systems, complex government bids, unintended internal competition, and managing internal and external stakeholders, the A&D industry is more challenging than ever.  

But digital transformation for aerospace and defense can lead to increased win probabilities, improved customer offerings, time savings, better collaboration, decreased cost of sales, and much more. Digital transformation uses the latest and fastest digital technology and software to solve business challenges, and in most cases utilizes cloud computing, reducing reliance on user-owned hardware. Ecommerce applications, digital marketing, online training and cloud-based ERP systems are just a few examples of how companies utilizing the technologies available in the digital world.  

Let’s take a look at some of the most daunting challenges facing aerospace and defense business development leaders and how digital transformation can overcome them.   

Challenge: Access to Accurate Information 

Everyone involved in business development activities, from frontline account managers to senior executives, needs access to the latest information. Account Managers are constantly being tasked with providing this information that they often view as a non-value add activity. But they also need critical information from other parts of the organization, such as marketing, engineering and operation to do their jobs. Sales managers and executives need access to this information in order to make critical decisions around forecasts, resources, and production planning. However, too often, this information is in spreadsheets and Word documents that get emailed around or at best, stored in multiple source systems. The information is often outdated or non-existent which makes it hard to get the information when it is needed.  

How Digital Transformation Overcomes It 

Companies that embrace digital transformation have information readily available for all users. Account Managers can easily make updates that are instantaneously available to everyone. Regular and ad hoc reporting is a by-product of record maintenance and not an additional task. Information is available in real time, anywhere, on any device, not in static reports that are outdated as soon as they are produced. It is not uncommon for companies to maintain dozens of sales pipeline spreadsheets that contain similar and redundant information. However, by leveraging technology, all reports are generated from a common dataset.  

Challenge: Multiple Disparate Systems 

According to a survey of A&D leadership by LNS Research, disparate data systems and data sources were the number one challenge in a survey of industry leadership. Large organizations with limited IT governance tend to accumulate multiple systems overtime. These systems may be a valuable point solution for individual business units, but they don’t serve the greater needs of the entire organization.  These systems often don’t communicate with each other, unless complex integrations are developed, and it is difficult to mashup the data when consolidated reporting is required. This results in hours or even days of work to transform the data to create just a single report.  

How Digital Transformation Overcomes It 

With a digital transformation strategy in place, systems are consolidated to the fewest possible applications as practical, but not so few as to restrict business needs. Data warehouses/data services are leveraged to enable data mashups for consolidated reporting. The technology and solutions are here, and the companies that take advantage of them operate more efficiently. 

Challenge: Program Collaboration 

Large government programs are inherently hard to manage. These programs generally have multiple sub-components that can mean dozens of opportunities spread across multiple parts of the organization. Companies struggle to connect the opportunities and to develop a comprehensive strategy for the entire portfolio. Individual parts of the organization may be unaware of what others are doing and make decisions that only service their best interests. This leads to sub-optimal product offerings and pricing strategies and can even lead to business units competing against each other. This lack of communication can also lead to confusion at the customer, with multiple representatives calling on the same person. 

How Digital Transformation Overcomes It 

Digital transformation allows you to capture all the information in a structured fashion so that you can connect individual opportunities and be able to develop a cohesive strategy. This enables the entire team to have quick access to internal and external partners, visibility to every element of a bid, and allow development of the best sales strategy.  

Challenge: Integrating Mergers and Acquisitions 

According to a recent study by Deloitte, merger and acquisition activity has shifted away from economies of scale and is now focused more on acquisition of new products and new markets. The industry has seen a tremendous number of mergers and acquisitions, even among the largest of companies. Senior leaders are looking for synergies from these acquisitions in the form of revenue increases and cost reductions, but companies often struggle to integrate these acquisitions into the organization structure. Most organizations lack both standardized sales process and enabling technology necessary to efficiently integrate the new business. Countless months or even years are wasted trying to integrate the businesses. 

How Digital Transformation Overcomes It 

The key here is having the processes and structure in place to integrating these new companies into the overall business development process. By leveraging digital transformation technologies, companies can quickly transition this new business into the existing sales process so that synergy opportunities can be quickly identified. 

Closing

Companies that have embraced digital transformation are realizing significant improvements in many areas of their business, such as improvements in engineering design, time to market, operational efficiencies of connected devices, and greater insights from utilizing machine learning. These same technology strategies and technologies can be extended to the business development team as well. When applied properly, the end results are improvements in revenue, margin, return on investment, and customer satisfaction.  However, most companies are not fully leveraging the capabilities available on the market. Those who do will lead the way in the digital marketplace.  

eLogic has helped many companies with their digital transformation. We’ve created an A&D specific solution to address these pipeline management concerns called ADvantage. It’s built on the Dynamics 365 platform that puts every single opportunity, proposal, investment, and resource across every line of business into one singular, accessible solution.


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