Three alternative visions of future global defence

07 Feb 2017 Tate Nurkin

As disruptive dynamics propel the future of the defence and security industries, cultivating new mind-sets to ensure agility and resilience in increasingly uncertain, vulnerable and unsettled strategic and operating environments will be critical to success.

Matching scenario-specific strategies with signpost identification allows decision-makers to effectively design hedging strategies and also implement these strategies as challenges are unfolding rather than after they have matured. Identifying enablers of success across multiple scenarios allows organizations to build flexibility and adaptability into strategic and operational plans.

Three alternative visions for the future of the global defence and security industry:

1. Industry Insurgency
This is a scenario largely focused on radical shifts in both supply and demand dynamics in the global export market. The scenario envisions growing global growth in defence spending, especially in emerging markets. It also posits tiers of new competitors enter the export market en force in the early-to-mid 2020s. The combined result is a fundamental squeezing of established providers market position requiring a rethink of strategy and business models across the industry.

First tier 'full spectrum' competitors reach 'full / cross - spectrum' competitive maturity between around 2022 and 2028. Simultaneously, several niche competitors-both in terms of capabilities and specific geographic focus areas-will constitute a more significant competitive presence. Some countries' will have ambitions that outstrip their industrial capacity, creating a different type of export challenge.

2. Divergent Disruptions
This is an exceptionally fast - paced scenario marked by rapid high-end and low-end asymmetric technological innovation in order to meet shifting end-user requirements. This scenario stresses the 'promise and peril' of new technologies and the pressures on industry that rapid innovation and incorporation of novel technologies to meet requirements of an expanding and complex threat environment produces.

3. Failing Frameworks
This is a scenario of transition from the Western-led frameworks that have dominated global economics, geopolitics, and security since the end of World War II to a new order that does not fully form during the 20 year-plus scenario timeframe.

Shifting geopolitical alliances create novel and affecting pressures on the global defence industry. New industry relationships form-many emerging export markets will focus on diversifying supplier bases as a hedge against changing geopolitical alignments that could upset defence relationships-and with them new procurement priorities and supplier / end-user models.

Incorporating uncertainty in current and future strategic planning

Scenario planning is a powerful and increasingly relevant means of incorporating uncertainty, challenging assumptions, and expanding thinking about the future. By developing and examining pathways to and parameters of a series of alternative plausible (as opposed to merely likely) environments, decision-makers can better understand how drivers might evolve and/or intersect to create novel landscapes.

Jane's Defence Industry 20YY scenario planning product has developed three alternative visions for the future of the global defence and security industry (and analysis of these futures), each designed to isolate a particularly powerful driver or intersection of drivers. Find out more here.

Tate Nurkin is Managing Director, Consulting and Thought Leadership, IHS Aerospace, Defense and Security


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