Integration Also Pays Off At Military

John L. Barry
John L. Barry

Barry has more than 30 years experience in the U.S. Air Force, including a stint as executive director of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board. He worked as a White House fellow at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). He was also the military assistant to the U.S. Secretary of Defense during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm and he held several other critical command-level positions as a fighter pilot. Barry says his global military background was excellent preparation for his post at SAP. “SAP for Defense & Security is actively involved in 50 countries, including 14 of 27 NATO nations,” he said.

Why do many military groups and security organizations select SAP?

Barry: SAP is the leader in the business in integration efforts for enterprise. That’s recognized around the world. The U.S. Defense Department made a very conscious decision in the early to mid-90s to start using commercial, off-the-shelf software.

Describe SAP for Defense & Security.

Barry: SAP for Defense & Security is the newest portfolio for SAP. For defense it’s SAP applications in military environments. For security it’s targeted at Homeland Security but it also is aimed at first responders such as police and firemen, a growing market. There is an increasing momentum where countries around the world in defense and security have started adapting enterprise systems. They see the efficiencies. They see the effectiveness. And more importantly, they see it as a way to help them deal with the threat of terrorism. By providing horizontal integration, SAP enables countries to acquire actionable knowledge so they can make quick and correct decisions in countering threats.

How did your military career prepare you for your current position?

Barry: I have a passion for integration because I’ve been working against stovepipes for a long time in the military. I was a strategic planner for the United States Air Force. So, trying to make sure that we integrated ourselves more effectively was important. That’s what SAP is all about.

SAP offers both operational and support solutions. Operational solutions are for those in the field. Support is human resources (HR), finance and logistics. SAP strives to bring greater visibility of the deployed forces to the support staff. We’re working to do that all the time. When I was an operational commander in Turkey flying over Iraq each day, we had to be able to maintain integration between the French, the Turks, the British and the Americans on how we were flying our airplanes. But when I wanted to know about the backend information for finance, logistics, HR and training, for instance, it was difficult. I never really got current or integrated answers. There wasn’t the same sophistication that we had on the operational side. So I clearly understand and am passionate about how the support side enhances operational capability. That passion is easily transferable to SAP.

What is one of your more noteworthy military assignments?

Barry: I became the commander in Turkey after the friendly fire helicopter shoot down in 1994. American F-15 pilots had misidentified two friendly helicopters that had 21 people on board. The people who were shot down were French, British, Turks and Americans. I was selected as the commander to fix that. It took our team over two years to work it out. At the end of the two years, we were recognized as the best wing organization in the U.S. Air Forces for Europe.

Please characterize a typical SAP for Defense & Security customer.

Barry: Many customers want to get a better handle on logistics and finance. Many need improved HR. We have a lot of military maintenance people and logisticians who are interested in SAP products. They clearly see the value of integrating. The great advantage of enterprise integration is that data doesn’t go into a stovepipe some place.

One of the unique things about the military is that they deploy. General Motors doesn’t deploy. But the military goes places. More countries are doing this. Singapore, for example, has people deployed in East Timor. Even NATO nations now are going out of their normal areas, to places like Bosnia-Herzegovina or Kosovo or Afghanistan. SAP defense solutions, besides the enterprise capability, gives them a capability to deploy.

How does SAP for Defense & Security provide that capability?

Barry: What SAP software does, is track all the forces in a database. If a decision is made to send 2,000 people somewhere, SAP helps organize that deployment. A military leader can decide to take a battalion of Army engineers, put two work shifts in place, and use a squadron of cargo airplanes for the job. In SAP you simply drag and drop the pieces into a task force. Then it tells you how many of your people are trained and ready to go. It tells you what equipment you have to bring, ships, airplanes, vehicles on the ground, and what communication gear you need and so on. It can also tell you what kind of support you need, spare parts, fuel and ammunition, for example. It tells you what the status of each is. You can find out if you have enough of one and not enough of another. So using SAP you build a task force and deploy it.

How do SAP solutions help deployed military or security forces?

Barry: With SAP NetWeaver, you have a mobile infrastructure capability. That means that after you organize a task force, and deploy it you can set up a mobile infrastructure so that force stays connected. For example, a young jeep driver out in the field delivering parts or food sustains vehicle damage because he runs off the road. With SAP mobile infrastructure, that driver can type on a laptop, connect to a server and get the right part ordered, have the maintenance day scheduled, and even identify the people that are going to repair it. All of that can be organized in SAP before the vehicle has arrived at the repair station. SAP for Defense & Security lets customers build task forces and set up mobile infrastructures once they’re deployed.

What notable new customers does SAP for Defense & Security have?

Barry: We just signed a contract with Holland. One more exciting project. Denmark just went live in June. And the German armed forces (Bundeswehr) just went live with our defense solution.