Page 50 - Australian Defence Magazine Aug 2019
P. 50

Real SME success
BY their very nature SMEs are agile, flex- ible and often created with the aim of solv- ing a certain problem or filling a require- ment. But are they now being stifled by the primes, in the defence industry space in particular, which would rather adapt or re-use an in-house product to ‘best-fit’ a re- quirement rather than sourcing a perhaps more suitable solution from outside, espe- cially when the innovation does not provide a clear differentiation against the criteria of a large and complex delivery program.
The Defence acquisition process is all too often ponderous and the rapid technologi- cal advancement in simulation can make it frustrating for some smaller businesses to remain engaged throughout the process.
At one simulation conference in Aus- tralia some years ago, the writer overhead representatives from two (unknown) com- panies asking themselves why they should bother doing business with Defence and wait perhaps 10 years for a contract, when they could achieve similar success in the mining industry within 10 months.
From Defence’s perspective too, is it per- ceived as a safer option to deal with a prime they know, rather than risk perhaps the unknown by selecting an SME to develop
in a simulated world
Air Affairs Australia Learjets in formation.
It is an often-repeated adage that innovation comes from small to medium enterprises (SMEs) and this has certainly been true in the simulation space in the past.
a product, service or capability? Particu- larly so as acquisition programs are becom- ing ever larger and more expensive, does it mean that SMEs are finding it increasingly harder to find a sympathetic ear within the Defence Organisation?
Is a relationship with a prime essential for doing business in the defence simulation space and how is this relationship formed – do the primes routinely look to SMEs for a desired capability, or do the smaller organ- isations have to do all the running to place themselves in the spotlight?
And what about the much-trumpeted Australian Industry Capability (AIC)? Is it real? Is it really scrutinised by the govern- ment? Does it really mean that local indus- try, local innovation and local capabilities are represented – or are they merely ‘shop- fronts’? Does AIC really amount to much if it’s not actively policed and consequences for non-compliance aren't made real?
These are questions applicable to every Defence acquisition project, but to hope- fully learn more about what it’s like to be an SME in the Defence simulation space, ADM spoke with a selection of companies who have enjoyed considerable success across a range of simulation products and services in the sector to date.
Air Affairs Australia
Air Affairs Australia (AAA) is an avia- tion operations and engineering company, which was established in 1995 and is 100 per cent Australian-owned and operated.
The company owns and operates a fleet of special mission Learjet and King Air
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