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News | Oct. 12, 2021

DLA prepares for future needs with Digital-Business Transformation

By Michael Molinaro DLA Information Operations Communications

The Defense Logistics Agency is leveraging emerging technologies in cloud-based computing, customer service and supply chain modernization with its Digital-Business Transformation, or D-BX.

With an average system age of 10-15 years, modernization is necessary for streamlining operational management and incorporating new technologies that will advance the nation’s strategic edge.  

“Technology is changing at an exponential rate, generating new opportunities in supply chain management and customer support,” DLA Director Navy Vice Adm Michelle Skubic said. “It is also increasing the capabilities of our competitors, driving new risks to our supply chains and operations.

The director added that D-BX will accelerate DLA’s ability to incorporate technology advancements, meet changing user needs and mitigate risk.

What is changing in DLA?

The D-BX strategy will dissect the current business model and identify business problems or needs than could benefit from artificial intelligence, emerging data management methods and other technologies, DLA Chief Information Officer George Duchak said.

Four key objectives make up D-BX: Transformational IT Capabilities, Advanced Data and Analytics, Cybersecurity and Technology Governance. Several initiatives serve as compasses to guide DLA toward meeting these four objectives.

They include:

  • Customer Relationship Management Transformation: CRM is modernizing existing CRM service capabilities to improve overall collaboration, management and resolution of customer inquiries through the new ServiceNow platform. Launched Aug. 9, ServiceNow tracks email, phone and fax inquiries from DLA customers.
  • ERP ​Migration: The transition of Enterprise Business Systems to a cloud-based hosting solution will improve auditability, accelerate capability development and delivery, streamline business processes, decrease cybersecurity vulnerabilities, address aggregated costs, simplify upgrades and provide better innovation as technologies evolve. This began in late 2020 and the migration to cloud is expected to be completed in 2022.
  • Troop Support​ Modernization: This initiative aims to increase productivity by modernizing legacy capabilities across construction and equipment, subsistence, and clothing and textiles supply chains. It includes reducing manual and email-based processes, as well as improving collaboration and communication between DLA employees, customers and vendors.
  • Warehouse Management ​System: The modernization of the DLA supply chain using automation, analytics and commercial off-the-shelf supply chain applications will improve the agency’s ability to get the right item to the right customer efficiently and in a cost-effective manner. A pilot program at DLA Distribution Corpus Christi Texas has been underway for more than a year.

“As the nation’s combat logistics support agency and valued partner, DLA must be innovative, adaptable, agile and accountable – focused on the warfighter always,” DLA Program Executive Officer Adarryl Roberts said. “D-BX will enable DLA employees to offer customers new solutions, products and technologies.

Roberts said “status quo” IT service will not meet warfighters’ future needs. D-BX empowers people to anticipate those needs and helps DLA respond to broader IT reform initiatives across the government, he added.

“DLA’s D-BX efforts go hand-in-hand with data literacy by bringing the agency closer to the future state, ‘to be’ data architecture,” said Lindsey Saul, DLA’s chief data and analytics officer. “Part of achieving a data-focused and data-driven culture requires having the right people and skillsets throughout the enterprise. We regularly evaluate ways to better train and educate our workforce to improve data literacy and analytical skillsets.”

She said part of D-BX is educating DLA employees on how artificial intelligence can help perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as recognizing patterns, learning from experience, drawing conclusions, making predictions and taking actions.

What’s next?

“This is going to be a culture change inside DLA,” Duchak said. “The degree of agility in the workforce and systems determines our ability to respond to change. This effort presents a unique opportunity to transform DLA into an agency that meets the needs of the future force.”

D-BX is one of three critical capabilities outlined in the DLA Strategic Plan 2021-2026. Duchak said DLA is also working internally and with partners to ensure the agency’s network, systems and data are protected from emerging and complex cyber threats while simultaneously transforming the agency’s systems and processes to improve transparency, reliability and security for its employees, customers and suppliers.

“DLA leadership recognized the need to become as efficient as possible, increase our customer service and reorganize around data for analytics and artificial intelligence, so the agency made the conscious decision with its strategic plan not to call it ‘IT Modernization’ but instead ‘Digital-Business Transformation’,” he added.