AUSA 2015 Day 3: Wrapping Up and Looking Forward
So: what have we learned over the past couple of days (other than that the rainfall in our conference room wasn’t actually from the air conditioning, but from melting ice left over from a party in the room above us)?
It’s always good to get confirmation that we’re on the right track with our product development, and AUSA has unquestionably done that for us when it comes to size, weight and power. Everybody—but everybody—we’ve spoken to has told us they’re looking to do more with less, and that the challenge is becoming even more intense. To a man—and woman—they’re looking for higher levels of computing performance for ever more demanding missions, but in smaller form factors, weighing less and consuming less power. It’s encouraging to hear that, because that’s pretty much the focus of everything we do.
The Army’s initiative to do more with less was front and center of many conversations we had. Recovering lost weight and space and saving power; sharing information and providing information to crews; and an open architecture that will allow platforms to accept future technologies without the need for significant re-design—those goals are looking increasingly achievable. “VICTORY compliance” is not only driving the Army—it’s driving the embedded computing vendors who serve the Army, and that includes GE.
A number of those who came to the GE booth at AUSA were interested in finding out what our capabilities are in terms of enabling them to better leverage and exploit the increasing amounts of high quality data that can be captured by increasingly sophisticated sensors. Again, the theme was very much “How can we do more with less?” We had a good story to tell them.
There’s a similar pre-occupation—understandably so—with what can be done to minimize, mitigate or even eliminate program risk. The people we’ve been talking to are committed to the concept of open industry standards and proven COTS technologies as a way of approaching this—and, again, that’s good to hear, because that’s what we’re all about.
Funding continues to be an issue that most AUSA visitors are acutely aware of, although there was some optimism to be found, with one visitor saying “we’ve crossed the bottom of the trough”: the expectation is that things will get better sooner rather than later. It was good to hear one delegate hadn’t lost his sense of humor: “At least I’m covered for my flight home tonight,” he smiled. Investment in the future, though, was clear to see at AUSA, with lots of new vehicles on display that respond to the Army’s need for a more agile, more expeditionary force.
Until such time as it has an official name, “Newco” is what we’re calling the new company that we will be when we’re spun out of GE. AUSA provided a great opportunity to test the reaction of our customers and the industry in general to what’s about to happen. Reassuringly, the response was universally positive. There’s no doubt that there’s a lot of respect for GE out there, but more than one visitor said that, at the end of the day, companies don’t deal with companies—people deal with people. The important thing from their perspective is that we’re keeping the band together, and they’ll still get to work with people they’ve grown to like, admire and trust.
That was really good to hear.