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Requirements out, Digital Twin In

Bottom Line Up Front: Get your Digital Engineering ready because Requirements are out in favor of interactive computer models of the products you’re selling the DoD.

So the Army Is Buying A Replacement For The Bradley

As you probably know, the Army’s principal troop carrier is the Bradley Fighting Vehicle. What maybe you don’t know is that the Army has tried and failed to buy something better three times. Three times!

Why? The way the Army buys things is a nightmare of red tape and convoluted procedures. Or it used to be. Until the Digital Transformation.

As I will cover in this blog in the months to come, the Pentagon’s side of the Digital Transformation is dumping the convoluted red tape and replacing it with Silicon-Valley-style strategies. One of those strategies is heavy use of Digital Engineering.

What is Digital Engineering?

The basic idea is that you create a high-fidelity computer simulation of your product. That super-accurate simulation is called a “Digital Twin.”

The advantage is that you can test and try out your gizmo before you actually build it. Your computer simulation is tied to a physics engine and you can test its performance before you’ve even built a prototype. Run it through its paces and measure how well it works, then refine and improve before anything has even been built! As you can imagine, this is a HUGE time-saver.

Another thing the Army likes is that you can hook that up to the HoloLens 2 virtual reality goggles and have soldiers try it out virtually and tell you what they think. This way, the Army can refine and polish the designs to make sure the soldiers like it before anyone builds anything. And since the Army is going to start to focus on User Experience, this is a tremendous advantage.

Also, No Requirements(!)

If you have ever set foot in the world of Government acquisitions, that phrase is nothing short of shocking. The foundation of the entire framework of Government acquisitions is requirements. The Feds buying something without requirements is like sailing a ship without an ocean!

But they are going ahead with it. Instead of requirements, they are going to use a wish list called “Characteristics of Need,” which will be an expression of their preferences, their “must-haves” and their “likes.”

No Requirements? That’s a joke, right?

Nope. The Digital Transformation is based on doing things like Silicon Valley, and Silicon Valley don’t use requirements. From now on, your submissions to Government bids will be your Digital Twin, not piles of binders full of papers.

So how will we know what to do?

Use good judgement in your engineering, guided by user-centered design. That’s the way commercial industry does it.

The Feds are done with thousand-page lists of requirements. That’s Ye Olden Days. From now on, you’ll have to bid the way regular companies do it. Just make the best products you can, run a ton of UX so the users love it, and hand in your Digital Twin so soldiers can test it out using their Virtual Reality goggles. That’s the new world.

Are you a CG Artist?

There’s fixin’ to be a ton of Virtual Reality work. You have no idea!

What about companies?

You should read the Pentagon’s new Series 5000 Acquisition Policies and pay particular attention to 5000.88: Engineering of Defense Systems. These are the new rules of the road.