We’re less than two weeks away from flying out to Latin America and organising matchmaking sessions at one of the most prominent Aerospace, Defence and Security fairs in the world – FIDAE (3-8 April, Santiago, Chile). There is still time to register and reap benefits from potential partnerships and business contacts.
However, before we land in Santiago and get to check the latest trends and technological advancements, we would like to present the top digital trends shaping the Global Aerospace and Defence industry in the coming years, as part of our ‘Road to FIDAE’ blog posts.
Intelligent Automation for greater efficiency
Both Accenture and BCG (Boston Consulting Group) list Intelligent Automation – use of Artificial Intelligence (AI), advanced robots, Augmented Reality (AR) – as an important digital technology trend for the future of the industry.  Some of the Aerospace & Defence (A&D) companies are already investing in these technologies to improve their operations, and “eight out of ten (A&D businesses) expect their investment in automation related to production and maintenance to increase over the next three years”. 
Big Data & Analytics for better optimization
Big Data and Analytics have the potential to transform operations management and optimise it for better and faster decision-making. For instance, A&D businesses can use big data and analytics to plan program management activities, or to forecast new opportunities of reducing costs in the supply chain. The list of possibilities goes on and on. 
Additive Manufacturing, or better known as 3-D Printing, is definitely on the rise amongst A&D companies for manufacturing purposes (aerospace parts, components, and prototypes). Not only does it improve the overall productivity, it also allows for decentralised production which, at the end of the day, will reduce costs and save time. 
Focus on Cybersecurity
Accenture’s report highlights that the implementation of new digital technologies in A&D companies carries new risks such as privacy and security breaches. The situation is getting increasingly serious, as “39 percent of aerospace and defense [sic] executives say that the number of incidents has doubled, and 18 percent report three times as many breaches compared with two years ago”. Hence the tremendous need to focus on cybersecurity in order to manage operations in the digital era. Demand for Clean Technologies on the rise
Clean technology measures within the A&D sector include energy efficiency, waste management, recycling, use of digital and paperless products, video conferencing, and many more. The demand for clean technologies in the A&D sector is expected to grow over the next few years, with and allocated budget expected to grow by 7.5% in 2016-2021 – especially within North America and Western Europe. This demand for an increase in clean technology keeps in line with the increasing support for environmental regulatory compliance, production efficiency and costs-savings measures. 
Last but not least, the implementation of digital technologies by A&D businesses does contribute to revenue growth ( 5-15%) and decreasing costs (5-10%). 
|||L. Ketzner and et al, “Becoming a Digital Frontrunner in Aerospace and Defense,” BCG, 6 July 2017. [Online]. Available: https://www.bcg.com/publications/2017/transformation-becoming-digital-frontrunner-aerospace-defense.aspx.|
|||Accenture, “Accenture Technology Vision 2016 for Aerospace and Defense Companies,” 2016. [Online]. Available: https://www.accenture.com/us-en/~/media/Accenture/next-gen-2/insight-navigating-digital-turbulence/pdf/Accenture-Navigating-Digital-Turbulence.pdf%20-%20zoom=50.|
|||Market Watch, “Clean Technology Market in Defense Industry: $500K Budget Allocation Expected by 2021,” Market Watch, 1 July 2016. [Online]. Available: https://www.marketwatch.com/story/clean-technology-market-in-defense-industry-500k-budget-allocation-expected-by-2021-2016-07-01-8203314.|
|||A. Baig and et al, “Five keys to digitizing aerospace and defense companies,” McKinsey & Company, December 2017. [Online]. Available: https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/aerospace-and-defense/our-insights/five-keys-to-digitizing-aerospace-and-defense-companies.|