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LinkedIn is now the largest B2B Aerospace & Defense online social network October 6, 2010

Posted by ludozone in Aerospace, eBusiness Applications/Services, International Business Development, Internet Marketing, LinkedIn, Social Media.
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While attending a recent AIA meeting about Disruptive Information Technologies, I was not surprised that during the debate on Social Networking, much of the focus was spent on FaceBook. In the Special Report on the subject published by the eBusiness Steering Group (PDF), most recommendations focused on the security challenges of the public social networks, while admitting that they have a benefit for the industry. In particular I find the report’s second recommendation most interesting:

“It is recommended that the AIA consider establishing an industry social network service to support smaller companies in the supply chain with a secure social networking service. This service would enable sharing of appropriate knowledge that is not covered by individual company IPR, such as the registration of hazardous substances under REAC h. The group has not made specific recommendations on the uses of such a service because one of the benefits of social networking is that uses will emerge from the community itself, within the policies established above.”

I would imagine that any company that already provides such a “social network” would probably vie for the chance to be endorsed by AIA. Of all of those, Exostar is probably the most likely candidate. It is very secure in terms of authentication, encryption, hosting and transmission. It implements the data sharing standards of the Trans-global Secure Collaboration Program (TSCP) designed by a consortium of prominent Aerospace companies. And it is used every day by thousands of companies in business critical operations. With a claim of 70,000 companies registered, it seems like this network would be the best choice for sharing “sensitive” information between companies.

But what about more casual or ad-hoc collaboration? What about forums where colleagues can discuss a variety of non-proprietary topics or ask questions of their peers? What about networking in search of business development or career opportunities? Those requirements do not fit the Exostar model. And as I discussed in a previous post, neither does it fit FaceBook. So what should AIA consider?

Aviation Week (AWConnect), Aviation Now (Aviation Professionals Network (APN)) and Flight Global (AirSpace) all have industry communities designed for that very purpose.

  Name Members Forums Jobs
Aviation Week AWConnect N/A 10 27
Aviation Today Aviation Professionals Network 6890 236 2037
Flight Global AirSpace 7610 23 673

All three communities are offered as a free service with very similar functions. But when it comes to this kind of service, one should not overlook LinkedIn. Since its inception, this professional network has had tremendous growth and when it comes to Aerospace & Defense companies, the participation is unparalleled. Here are the stats:

  • Number of A&D companies with employees on LinkedIn: 9181
  • 72 % of the companies have less than 200 employees
  • 103 companies listed 616 jobs
  • Worldwide company distribution: North America 50%, European Community 27%, RoW 23%. Top 10 countries (in order): USA, UK, Canada, India, France, Netherlands, Australia, Germany, Italy, Spain.
  • Although the total number of A&D users is not available, over 220,000 employees of the top 10 A&D companies are on LinkedIn:
  Nbr Employees on LinkedIn
Boeing 51080
Lockheed Martin 36574
Northrop Grumman 27213
Honeywell 26858
Raytheon 18929
BAE SYSTEMS 17797
General Dynamics 13838
EADS 12522
United Technology 11207
Thales 10247
  • Most of the job functions are represented:
Job Function Users
Engineer 138197
Sales/Marketing/Customer Service 58510
Project/Program Manager 53069
Analyst 37024
Pilot 25324
Executive 20758
Consultant 17219
Quality 14589
CEO/COO 8177
Mechanic 4226

So like it or not, LinkedIn is now the largest B2B A&D online community network, and AIA should consider that in its plan, no matter what they are. As for you, if you want to have ad-hoc collaboration (and not necessarily public mind you), if you want to discuss a variety of non-proprietary topics or ask questions of your peers, or if you want to network in search of business development or career opportunities, then LinkedIn is the place for you. You should take a moment to create or update your profile, sign-up for some of the 2000+ discussion groups, and check in on the site regularly.

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Connecting the World: Three Applications for International eBusiness Collaboration April 20, 2009

Posted by ludozone in eBusiness Applications/Services, International Business Development, Online Supply Chain Management.
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With the globalization of the Aerospace and Defense (A&D) industry, the international portion of a company’s business will continue to grow and become more complex than ever. Managing export control of restricted non-tangible items, sourcing products and services qualifying for offset credits, or taking advantage multi-time zone workday are three examples of how internet applications can help.

Export Control Management

With renewed emphasis by the government of the United States and United Kingdom on the control of information and technology export to other nations, many A&D companies are increasing their level of diligence on this matter. Rules and regulations in this area require careful planning, control, and tracking of the distribution of information related to military technology declared “sensitive” by the government. Any breach of these regulations can result in severe monetary penalties or even federal charges resulting in imprisonment.

Using secure multi-enterprise collaboration tools (e.g. Exostar ForumPass), companies can take advantage of the identity management, access control, and full audit tracking functionalities of the solution to meet the requirements of Export Control. A company can insure that only users for which it has obtained export control license are invited to the project. Any data that needs to be shared with the targeted partners can be “tagged” for export. This triggers the workflow function of the tool which alerts the export control officer. The officer can then review the data and approve or reject access by the desired companies. The whole process is tracked and recorded electronically, should any of this information be required by government auditors.

Multi-time Zone Workday

With A&D partners located throughout the world, there is now an opportunity to take advantage of the geographic position of some companies to achieve tremendous growth in productivity. This is particularly important in the domain of engineering design.

Using multi-enterprise collaboration tools (e.g. Dassault Systemes ENOVIA) to combine the work of engineers located in different parts of the world to achieve a near continuous multi-time zone workday. For example, an engineer in the UK can check-in his design work into the system at the end of the day. This work is then picked up by a colleague in Seattle at the beginning of her work day. When she is done, the updated work gets checked back into the system where a third colleague in Japan picks it up upon arriving to work. At the end of his day, the completed work gets reviewed by the original engineer back in the UK just back to work in the morning. This means a UK project could achieve nearly 24 hours of engineering work in any calendar day, potentially reducing a design project from months to a mere weeks.

Sourcing for Offset Credits

Many A&D companies selling equipment to foreign countries enter “offset” agreements that require them to reciprocate the original deal with the procurement of products and services from local suppliers. If the company does not meet these obligations, they are liable for major financial penalties which, by the way, do not relieve them from the original obligations. In addition, the “offset” obligation is often greater than the value of the original contract.

The main difficulty with buying from “local” suppliers in a foreign country is that the procurement department of the buying company does not recognize these suppliers as “approved” suppliers. In the past, including additional suppliers, especially foreign, in a request for bid was very time consuming and just not efficient.

Some companies are now using eSourcing tools (e.g. Oracle Sourcing) to help them with this problem. With this solution, sending a request for information (RFI) or even a request for quote (RFQ) to three “known” or to fifteen “international” suppliers takes about the same time. This means procurement executives can scan international supplier directories for suppliers in countries where offset obligations exist and include them in the requests. Of course, this solution does not work for all purchases especially when supplier reputation and track record are a major requirement. But all in all, companies have found enough “low risk” purchases in a year to derive noticeable offsets benefits from the solution.

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