A day of defence discovery, inspiration... and robot dogs
The Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) conference is the largest fully integrated defence and security hybrid event that connects governments, the armed forces, and the wider industry on a global scale.
The theme of this year’s event was the future of defence, emphasising collaboration, innovation, and integration.
At Inform we’ve a real sense of pride working with the Ministry of Defence (MOD) – that’s why we make sure headline events like DSEI are firmly in our team’s diaries to attend. Championing our clients means absorbing everything that’s going on within their industry and sharing insights with our colleagues back at Inform ‘HQ’.
And it seems there’s no event quite like DSEI, as you’ll uncover by reading Ezme’s event day diary.
The DSEI download
We enter ExCel London hyped up and ready for the conference – one of the world’s largest and most important events dedicated to defence and security. From emerging technologies to in-depth panel discussion, it brings together government officials, military personnel, defence industry, and experts from around the globe, like Michele and I 😉.
With no dangerous or sharp items in our bags (apart from Michele’s tweezers), we begin our descent through security.
We’re through security and Michele still has her tweezers (hooray!). We’re given maps and route planners for the day, but they don’t really help to be honest – we’re already lost.
Exploring BNS Castor
After signing up for a tour, we head down to BNS Castor, a Belgium warship. The waterside’s full of warships and we feel tiny against the row of vessels.
We go inside BNS Castor and tour the control and command room of the ship. We’re shown an automatic rifle and infrared camera system which is used by crew to spot pirates and enemy weaponry.
We’re then taken down to the engine room. Woah, it’s impressive, and with two mighty engines running – incredibly hot. It’s like you see in the movies, steam everywhere with an insane amount of heat and rumbling.
The captain shows us his dorm (ahoy captain) which is kitted out with a sound system and Wi-Fi! YouTube’s banned but, when out to sea, they’re able to communicate with land if needed.
A keynote forum and a robot dog
We head to our first keynote forum, oh but look! A robot dog. So many distractions… keep walking.
We finally make it to the forum and hear Erika Korckina, Vice Minister of Economy and Innovation of the Republic of Lithuania, talking about why the reliance on traditional military is still required, even with the prolific rise in technology.
Panel discussion with key insights
Now for the panel discussion.
Accelerating Digitisation – the Campaign Advantage presented by Digital Exploitation for Defence (DX4D).
Charlie Forte, Chief Information Officer, is chairing and Caroline Bellamy, our key stakeholder in Data for Defence Office is a panel speaker. The messaging’s aligned and clear: Data is the new ammunition in executing defence and warfare effectively.
Air Vice-Marshal David Arthurton OBE, Director Military Digitisation, Defence Digital, stresses the importance of Campaign Advantage which has a focus on delivering three key areas for Defence: DX4D (a data exploitation programme owned by the 2nd Permanent Secretary), Command and Control (the efficient application of military power), and kill chain (delivering timidly decisions in warfare). He also notes DDAP (Defence Data Analytics Platform) as the platform ready to unlock the power of data for Defence.
Director of Capability, Strategic Command, Major General Robin Anderton-Brown says having an outcome-focused mindset, especially in a world of fast paced technology, is key. He tells us that strategic command isn’t just about responding to threat, but always being prepared for the next threat.
Next up, Andy Start, Chief Exec Officer, Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) highlights the need for integration and collaboration in following the ‘Today, tomorrow, together’ strategy – driving platforms today, spinning in new systems tomorrow, together with allies and industries.
Dr Nina Cope CB, Chief Operating Officer at MOD, urges a shift towards outcome-focused thinking and partnerships with allies. She advocates for a more holistic approach, emphasising that the defence system should be interconnected rather than in isolated structures. She talks about the importance of how we’re designed; the types of diverse people and the thinking we need to attract and retain to reach a collective ambition.
Caroline Bellamy, Chief Data Officer, MOD speaks last, but with the most clarity. Caroline shares that data underpins military outcomes and success, so that those who need it, behind a desk, or in a fighter jet, have the intel they need. She states that data isn’t an afterthought – it’s at the heart of what they’re building at MOD for future readiness.
”“Data takes effort but we must exploit it and we must invest in our people, platforms, and skills.”Caroline Bellamy, Chief Data OfficerMOD
Stands and stakeholders
After the panel discussion, we’re feeling inspired and clear on MOD’s ambition and outcomes. We mooch around the exhibition stands, not just to gather free merch (although our new bags and pens are handy).
We visit DE&S, ADS Group, Bae Systems, Palantir, and more. We have some good conversations around hot topics (data and AI) and meet some of the key stakeholders we work with, including Defence Digital Comms.
We grab some lunch and fight for a seat (there are thousands of people). Careful, Michele has sushi chopsticks.
Woah, tanks and helicopters!
We head towards another DSEI keynote session in the aerospace arena, but wait, is that a full-size tank?
Wait again. It’s been upstaged by a helicopter.
I have so many questions. How did they get this in the exhibition?
Focus Ezme. We move on…
Modern cloud, modern warfare
We listen to a discussion on Modern Cloud for Modern Battlefield.
The panel includes thought-leaders from Oracle and Brigadier Stefan Crossfield, Chief Data Officer for the British Army.
We hear about the necessity of dealing with legacy systems, the shifting mission focus from the battlefield to data centres, the critical advantage of gathering intelligence rapidly, and the importance of sharing information – especially through cloud capability.
The talk ends with a closing remark about modern warfare being fought through Python code, more than on the battlefield, and the need to adapt by hiring the best next generation of talent, and quickly.
Homeward bound – or is it?
Brains full to the brim with newfound knowledge and clear messaging around a unified mission across the industry, we head home.
Michele pops over to Covent Garden to grab a new lipstick and take some work calls and I head to Canary Wharf to meet a friend for dinner. I get there early and write this blog, so sorry if there’s a scent of Espresso Martini’s.
Ezme's a highly experienced communications consultant and also a qualified and practising CBT psychotherapist, helping organisations explore behavioural change.