Active Navigation’s success in Defence across the Royal Air Force, Royal Navy and MoD Permanent Joint Headquarters has caught the eye of journalist Matthew Bell from Janes Defence Industry news.


Active Navigation looks to build on MoD contracts
Matthew Bell Jane’s Industry Reporter
Key Points

• The UK’s Active Navigation is looking to expand its work for the MoD in information management, according to the company’s managing director
• The MoD’s DII programme is a crucial driver of interest in the company’s services

As the UK’s armed services move towards completion of a crucial information restructuring effort, domestic firm Active Navigation is looking to build on existing Ministry of Defence (MoD) contracts to exploit a growing market for information cleansing and governance.

The company’s managing director, Peter Baumann, told Jane’s on 17 February that Active Navigation is looking West in its attempt to boost commercial defence business in a “new era” of excessive data and inattentive information controls.
In addition to current information management contracts with the UK’s Royal Air Force (RAF), Royal Navy (RN) and Permanent Joint Headquarters, within the last five years Active Navigation secured work in the US with the Department of Defense’s (DoD’s) Acquisition Technology and Logistics Division. The company also works with private defence companies, including BAE Systems’ UK and US businesses.
The RAF and RN are “trying to take control of their own destiny”, according to Rich Hale, Active Navigation’s director of product and operations, as the services head towards completion of the MoD’s Defence Information Infrastructure (DII) programme: a GBP7.1 billion (USD10.9 billion) effort that aims to replace the MoD’s entire information infrastructure with a single system by 2015.
The next phase of DII, dubbed Increment 3a, was signed off by the MoD in January in a deal worth GBP540 million, the ATLAS Consortium will provide 42,000 computer terminals operating in the Restricted and Secret domains to MoD fixed sites.
“What [the RAF and RN] are trying to do with Active Navigation is to get ahead of the game,” said Hale. “[DII is] a massive programme, and when a programme of that size starts to roll, there’s no stopping it. At a base level, you have to migrate; it’s this rolling stone, and you have to deal with it,” he added.
Active Navigation uses linguistic analysis to identify key themes in unstructured data, working with a customer to identify high-value information and then devise workflows for future data capture and usage. Baumann described the company’s approach as “light touch and low impact”, because its analysis methods mitigate the need for extensive staff training and time-consuming investigation of an organisation’s working methods.
Reflecting on the importance of his company’s work in the defence arena, Baumann said: “Give a guy in the field the wrong information at the wrong time, you’ve just put a life at risk… There aren’t many advantages that we have in the West any more over most of our enemies, but information is the best one we have; knowledge and information, and the best use of the information.”
Hale said that information management was entering a new phase, as companies and government departments have begun to recognise the damaging effects of poor data controls in previous years.
“The market is still waking up to the fact that it’s not technology alone that solves the problem,” said Hale. “Our proposition is that information is out of control, and fundamentally it doesn’t matter whether you use a GBP10 rollerdex system, or a multimillion pound document management system: if you pile rubbish into it, you’re just going to degrade it.”
Active Navigation also applies its services in the finance and energy markets, but regards defence as a crucial area for future growth. “Expanding within the MoD and with defence contractors [is] a bit of a no-brainer there, given the foothold we’ve got,” said Baumann.” But there’s a lot of interest there, both in the UK and the US.”
Copyright © IHS Global Limited, 2010

Matthew Bell
Jane’s Defence Industry Reporter
+44 (0) 20 8700 3812