How 2020 trends will affect work in aerospace and defense

aerospace manufacturing in progress

DXC Technology’s recent 2020 Technology Trends and the Future of Work makes it clear that technology will have a significant impact on the workplace in 2020. But how much of that applies to aerospace and defense companies characterized by sprawling manufacturing facilities staffed with thousands of employees working on assembly lines and shop floors?

Artificial intelligence gains a foothold

Some trends like the growing use of AI in professional services will have a clear impact on the industry, but it’s likely to differ from the ways AI will affect consumer-oriented industries like retail, banking or insurance. In those industries, AI is expected to assume a wide range of customer support and advisory roles. Today, those are commonly found in the form of chatbots and roboadvisors.

In aerospace and defense, AI will supply foundational technology to other areas such as augmented and virtual reality. These tools are being used to improve worker training and to capture the institutional expertise of workers who are about the leave the workforce. AI-assisted voice-enabled systems will be used more widely in manufacturing and maintenance situations to enable workers to look up information and carry out other tasks using voice commands without having to put down their tools.

Data’s escalating value

For A&D companies, though, the rising value of data is the real story. Data collection to facilitate analysis is still new territory for aerospace companies, but their understanding of its power is advancing quickly. With the value that new tools can extract from sensors embedded in manufacturing equipment and finished products, nearly every major initiative planned by aerospace companies in the next few years depends on the ability to improve data collection and enable more data-driven decisions. Manufacturers now recognize how data can be used to boost productivity, optimize processes, improve manufacturing throughput and raise product quality.

For example, some manufacturers are implementing digital twins to simulate everything from manufacturing lines to jet engines, simulating and analyzing the performance of virtual products before the first physical product is created. In one well-received project, DXC helped an aircraft engine manufacturer use digital twin technology to predict exactly when to bring an aircraft in for inspection. This approach collected data from every engine usage for every flight, taking into account the physics of the engine blades, to see and measure how the engine is operating. This enables the manufacturer to avoid the downtime it would have spent to pull the engine apart and perform inspections.

Another important data-driven development is the implementation of digital threads that tie together, simplify and streamline the key design, manufacture and service domains, including product life-cycle management, supply chain management, enterprise resource planning and customer relationship management. Creating digital threads gives an A&D company an end-to-end integrated view across their business that they’ve never had before.

An emphasis on teams and tech-savvy leadership

Companies that choose to build around the teamwork and leadership trends highlighted in the study are likely to enjoy the most long-term success. A&D companies already understand the value of teams and teamwork, but the coming years will make it even more important to restructure to expand interconnected teams that encompass the whole organization, its suppliers and partners.

New leaders will advocate for technologies that can improve the enterprise’s speed, agility, productivity and innovative advantage. As technology evangelists, these leaders work at the C level to shape digital strategy while engaging in major initiatives such as smart products, mergers and acquisitions, intellectual property development and learning.

A&D’s continuing evolution

Change at this scale won’t happen in a single year. Even the most progressive companies will be challenged to continue the important mission of working through modernization programs and data management initiatives that are prerequisites to many of these trends. But there’s no doubt that technology’s positive impact on the workplace will be felt in A&D companies just as clearly as any other industry.

Praveen Cherukuri headshotPraveen Cherukuri is a DXC Chief Technologist for Aerospace, Defense, and Manufacturing industries in the Americas. He is responsible for delivering innovative business outcomes using emerging technologies. He holds multiple certifications in AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud. He is passionate about applied Data Science and Robotics.


  1. Abdul Ahad says:

    Very Good Article. Thanks.

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