Earlier this month, the DTO convened more than 200 Airmen and Guardians at the Digital Drivers’ Forum, a virtual workshop aimed at connecting the DAF digital transformation community, surfacing recent accomplishments, and empowering the DAF workforce to have an even greater impact in the coming year.
The event kicked off with an intro from DAF DTO Chief Kyle Hurst, who shared his team’s vision to cultivate a digitally-empowered DAF. He addressed how enhanced fundamentals and digital-first strategies will come together to enable seamless collaboration across functional communities, AFMC centers, and government and industry counterparts.
Discussing the AFMC’s recent decision to sunset the Digital Campaign, Hurst explained how the DTO is postured to support AFMC’s Digital Materiel Management initiatives, in addition to the digital transformation efforts of the DAF acquisition and sustainment enterprise.
Robert J. Fookes, Jr., Director of Engineering and Technical Management, and Chief Engineer, AFMC, echoed Hurst’s points, underscoring that the new structure is designed to provide clearer focus and accountability. Fookes credited the Digital Campaign for a number of valuable outputs, including the formation of the Digital Transformation Office. “Lots of great things have come out of the Digital Campaign, and some of them will go on, under the leadership of the DTO.”
Dr. Steven Turek, DTO Technical Advisor, and Noah “Odie” Demerly, DTO Process Automation Lead, spoke further about the Digital Campaign transition and ongoing DTO initiatives, including Digital Agents of Change and Digital Tools for All.
During a series of breakout discussions, participants were asked to surface existing barriers to digital transformation and share ideas on how to overcome them.
COMMON THEMES WE HEARD:
>>Culture change is critical. Legacy program offices and functional areas aren’t always equipped to embrace digital transformation.
>>Clearer strategic direction and more frequent communication will improve alignment. There are many digital efforts happening across the DAF, but this work is splintered; there’s no central source of truth.
>>Authoritative models and data are needed to ensure reliability and achieve scale. Data discrepancies and rights issues slow teams down and keep them operating in silos.
>>Enterprise software licensing could be a game changer. Today, even after teams have done the hard work of identifying the right tools for their needs, they often run into access issues.
>>Processes and systems should be standardized. While some teams may currently be able to access strategic guidance, the recommended processes are ambiguous—e.g., how to get vendors on contract and manage the budgeting process.
>>There’s a strong desire for greater collaboration. Interoperability is necessary to push and pull data between platforms. Teams are also interested in pooling key learnings and best practices so they can easily learn from and assist one another.
>>There should be better visibility around existing and desired skill sets. Right now, teams don’t know exactly where to turn—internally or externally—when seeking digitally qualified resources.
>>To efficiently build and maintain skills, the workforce needs more robust digital training and education. This would involve a well-coordinated mix of general and role-specific content. Every Airman and Guardian could benefit from a personalized digital development plan.
The DTO is now assessing projects proposed during the workshop based on the level of effort required to execute and potential positive impact. The team will follow up with workshop participants and other DAF digital doers in the coming days to share a draft project roadmap and provide guidance on how Airmen and Guardians can get involved.
For those who missed the workshop or would like to revisit it, a recording of the plenary segments is available for reference (passcode: DTO!2023).
If you have any related questions, please reach out to Noah “Odie” Demerly via the dafdto.com Team page.