The term “arms race” has become shorthand for any sort of contest of capabilities, but the phrase of course originally referred to military weaponry – swords, ships, aircraft or missiles, for example. Whenever a weapon emerged, all parties rushed to gain an advantage in firepower. The arms race, as they say, was on. Today it can refer to coaching salaries or campaign fundraising or any number of competitive circumstances, but its roots are in warfare.
Weapons have evolved over the centuries, but the arms race in one area has remained unchanged: Information decides more battles than any bomb or warship. Whether it’s intel on troop movements, supply lines, weather patterns, code breaking or any of a thousand different pieces of information influencing battlefield decisions, the ability to acquire, analyze and act on data is critical to winning a war.
Today’s warfighters and planners have access to more data than ever before, with satellite imaging and communications, computer-controlled vehicles and weapons, seemingly omnipotent digital and audio monitoring capabilities and countless other IT- and IoT-enabled defense and military resources. Managing that data is critical to maintaining a strong national defense and gaining difference-making advantages in the event of international conflicts.
With all of that in mind, it’s no surprise that Defense checked in at No. 6 on our list of the world’s Most Critical Industries. Downtime in the Defense sector not only can cost lives; it can change the course of history.
Understanding this, the industry astutely invests heavily in reliability, redundancy and security to ensure the availability of critical systems. The details of those investments, however, are rarely shared. The industry values secrecy and tends to establish its own specifications for mission critical systems and applications. The standards are understandably high.
If the ultimate modern arms race is information, nothing is more important than protecting that information. That is the very definition of Most Critical.