As DPRTE – the UK’s leading annual defence procurement and supply chain event – nears its 27 March launch, Defence Online delves deeper into the exhibition with a little help from the defence and security specialists taking part.
Here, Stuart Young – Head of the Centre for Defence Acquisition at Cranfield University – outlines his plans for DPRTE 2018, the big talking points at hand and the opportunities for the defence community as a whole.
Cranfield University is once again an official event partner for DPRTE. What makes the two an ideal pairing?
I head up the Centre for Defence Acquisition, which forms part of Cranfield Defence and Security. Our focus is supply chain management, logistics and support, procurement and commercial covering both the education side of things and research in those areas.
DPRTE is probably the premier event for procurement and supply chain professionals in defence across both industry and government. For us, it’s an ideal partnership. We can support the development of procurement and supply chain capabilities across the complete defence spectrum.
What do you view as being the big topics up for debate this DPRTE?
For us, it’s always the relationship between the MOD customer and industry supplier. This manifests in a lot of different ways. It’s all about streamlining and improving the performance of that relationship. But that relationship is only going to work if we share data and information across the interface between customer and supplier.
It’s also about balancing efficiency to keep costs down while also achieving the effectiveness that you need. There are all things that are difficult to achieve, and many of the issues are unique to the defence environment. That’s why we need a specific event like DPRTE which covers these issues in full and in the defence context.
What does Cranfield University have on the agenda this year?
Cranfield University is giving two presentations – the first by Richard Fisher, a colleague of mine. Richard is doing some really interesting research into the defence industry ecosystem, applying tools used for identifying and managing social networks to the myriad of agents and nodes across the defence industry environment.
This means that we can map and understand complex interactions, explore information flows, work out where the choke points are and identify single points of failure, all with the aim of improving understanding today so that we can develop better networks for tomorrow.
Meanwhile, I will discuss professionalism in procurement. This is not just about the courses that we deliver because a course alone is no longer enough. It’s now about attendees going back to their workplace and organisations utilising and consolidating the skills their new learners have developed. You have to go on and apply those skills in the workplace.
Essentially, it’s all about us getting involved in that process, supporting workplace learning and looking at the relationship between educators, industry and professional institutes. It’s a three-way partnership to develop the capabilities that we sorely need. This is not something you can pay lip service to. It isn’t enough to send people on a course and think you’ve solved the problem. It’s that complete package that leads to the professionalism we’re looking for.
Is there anything in the events programme that you’re particularly excited about?
One of the key themes is big data. Organisations like Amazon or Google are very much into big data and what that can tell them about their customers. But what I’m quite interested in is how big data can be applied to the defence environment. There’s a lot of interesting things around the value of information in defence, digital capabilities and information sharing. It’s these sorts of things that I look forward to seeing in some of the presentations.
I’d also like to engage in the networking opportunities as well. People come to see us but they don’t just come to learn about courses – they come to talk about some of the current issues facing the industry. For me, its big data and how we can better apply that in the defence environment.
Could you talk about the role events like DPRTE play in engaging with the wider defence community?
Cranfield is a very industry-orientated university. We’re purely post-graduate, which means that that we rely on having a close working relationship with industry. DPRTE is another opportunity to engage with that industry and get feedback on what they want.
We’re also very much a research-led university. We need to understand what the current issues are so that we can then apply our research in the areas relevant to our industry partners.
For us, DPRTE is the only event focused on procurement and supply chain in defence. I go to a lot of conferences and exhibitions looking at logistics or equipment but DPRTE is a key enabler. You can have great ideas but unless they translate into commercial relationships and contracts between customer and supplier they’re not actually going to come to fruition. DPRTE is part of the enabling process that translates great ideas into real innovations that can be delivered to the frontline.
Finally, where on the show floor will we find Cranfield University? What can attendees expect to see there?
Cranfield University can be found at Stand 1Z4 in the Innovation Zone, close to the keynote arena. A number of our academic and research staff will be there to advise on the educational and development opportunities on offer.
But, as mentioned, we can also have that wider conversation about the latest developments relevant to procurement and supply chain management, blue-sky thinking and feedback. It’s an opportunity for delegates at the event to come and talk to us about education, but also for us to engage in that wider conversation with them as well.
To hear more from Cranfield University and learn how your business can benefit from new ideas, book your place at DPRTE 2018 now: http://www.dprte.co.uk/book-now/
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