Information is a strategic asset that fuels organizations. Throughout history, information has been gathered and kept in a format that can be shared and used to make informed decisions. Today, information is still a valuable commodity, but what has changed is the format – from paper to digital. 

This strategic asset is being collected and used today in a digital format. The paper-based format is being transformed into a digital format for ease of storage and accessibility that decision-makers can use in making proper assessments. According to the Defence Information Management Plan 2019-2022, having “timely, trusted, and secure information that can be shared across the Department of National Defence (DND) and the Canadian Armed Forces is the foundation of sound, evidence-based decision-making.” By analyzing information, DND/CAF can tell how well they are performing in business and operations. But to move from a paper-based environment to a digital one requires some changes. 

In this issue of Vanguard, we are excited to share with you a roundtable discussion with RAdm Jeff Zwick, Chief of SSE Combat Systems Integration, Canadian Armed Forces and Christiana Cavazzoni, Associate Assistant Deputy Minister, Information Management, and Deputy Chief Information Officer, Department of National Defence about these changes. Both of these defence players have been instrumental in the ongoing digital journey within DND/CAF. They have also spoken about the vital need to make these changes within our defence environment. In their latest presentations at C4ISR and Beyond 2021, RAdm Zwick and Ms. Cavazzoni delved into digital as being the core of C4ISR and delivering digital through partnerships respectively. In this issue, we are carrying on that digital journey conversation.

With information growing at an unprecedented rate, the risk of drowning in the information sea is very high. On a human level, having too much information makes it much more difficult to make proper decisions. The answer, AI? In the first of two articles in this issue by Col Richard Fawcett (Ret’d), the role of AI in mitigating this risk is considered. He examines the role and benefit of AI in dealing with the potential information overload risk in deployed tactical HQs. 

Digitalization or digital transformation has been shoved to the forefront today due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In her article, Digital Transformation – The Future of Today’s Economy, Shannon McClure writes about defence organizations are facing many challenges due to the pandemic and the need to be doing business digitally. There is a great need for these organizations to transform and invest in the latest digital technologies, not only to fuel a major shift in the industry, but also to thrive beyond the immediate horizon.

In continuing the theme of digital, Col Richard Fawcett (Ret’d) writes in his second article in this issue about how everyone in the CAF needs to be a Digital Warfighter. A Digital Warfighter is any soldier, sailor, or aviator whose combat responsibilities include establishing and maintaining digital systems, using digital tools and systems, and those impacted by digitization. As the CAF continues its digital transformation journey, it must take the broad approach of training its Digital Warfighters. Digital training, Col Richard Fawcett (Ret’d) points out, must be institutionalized, and ingrained into the CAF operational culture, so that it becomes second nature, just like weapons training is today. 

To warp this issue of Vanguard, I would like to introduce our Game Changers: Meet Shlomo Bielak, Chief Technology Officer, Benchmark Corp and Christine Griffin, Head of Sales, Account Management and Client Services, Express Scripts Canada.

Thanks for taking the time to read this edition.

Stay safe.