CRA publishes Doeckel and Grundman on “Security and the Commons: A Segmentation of Assets by Function”

1 July 2010 • 0 Comments

How should the aerospace and defense industry think strategically about the attention now being focused on securing “the Commons”? The prevailing conceptions of this problem are associated with two distinct customer perspectives, neither of which is well suited to informing strong business strategies. From the perspective of armed forces, the problem is about assuring access through “ungoverned spaces” as they may manifest themselves in the mostly familiar operating domains of sea, air, land, space, and cyberspace. From the perspective of homeland defense, the problem of securing the Commons is primarily about protecting the national infrastructure of industrial production, commercial services, agriculture, healthcare, and public safety thought to be critical to the functioning of the economy. While articulating real and novel challenges, conceptions focused on domain access and the regulation of infrastructure assets have done little for the A&D industry to illuminate new approaches to gaining competitive advantage in this adjacent space. Consequently, neither of these perspectives on securing the Commons has inspired especially coherent business response to the imperatives of securing the Commons.

A more powerful framework for such business strategies focuses on the assets associated with the Commons and takes stock of the particular functions that invest in these assets a “common” value. The interactive graphic featured in this issue of CRA’s Closer Look presents an illustrative array of these assets organized into a framework of technological functions. Each cell in this matrix characterizes a class of assets that is distinguished by its primary object—matter, energy, or information—and the action it takes with respect to that object—to process, transport, or store. Each combination of object and action suggests a distinctive function which the corresponding assets play in relation to an entire system. And it is the functional significance of these assets that opens a conceptual door to insights about successful business strategies for addressing customer needs to secure the Commons.

Seen in this framework, the customer needs associated with securing the Commons are more tractable to analysis of customer demand and the formulation of supplier responses. For example, in the context of how these assets create common value, the size and pace of customer demand can begin to be appraised by evaluating the risks and consequences of events that may impair the security of these assets—events of the sort that animate the interactive graphic. Moreover, the organization of Commons assets by this scheme also suggests patterns of customer needs that may form the foundation for a coherent business strategy. For example, a competitive strategy could be organized around the assets associated with a single function, like securing energy-storage assets, or some other combination of functions that may be amenable either to a common operational approach (e.g., protecting fixed assets, arteries, information) or to a distinct technological solution (e.g., biometrics, remote sensing, data processing).


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