It has been a good year for business, says Chris Coupland, director of IT and e-business for aerospace and defence supplier BAE Systems. The company had nine per cent revenue growth, more than £1 billion profits, further growth in the US and made a number of international acquisitions. It also sold its stake in Airbus to focus on its defence and US business, and has seen very positive growth in five of its home markets. “The business is very different compared with two or three years ago when things were very bad and there was no growth,” says Coupland. “It is leaner and meaner and has a positive agenda, which has implications for IT.”

The company, the fourth largest defence company in the world and the largest in Europe, has operations across five continents and employs around 80,000 people. Its six home markets comprise Australia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Sweden, the UK and the US. Its contract with outsourcer CSC has given it more flexibility in service provision across those markets. “We can improve services, costs and capability using the deal with CSC,” Coupland comments. The company is now in the middle of a transformation programme, which will allow for more intelligent customer strategies and decision-making, which Coupland says will be a big focus for BAE Systems. Future plans include working on identity management with third-parties, the Ministry of Defence, the US Department of Defence and other industry players. “We are looking at who and how access will work, and expect early implementations over the next 12 months,” says Coupland. BAE Systems will also be working on how best to work with EAI and the internet, and will be looking to leverage the benefits for increasing the efficiency of information flows throughout the organisation. SOA and integration are also big themes for this year, according to Coupland.

The company-wide ERP platform re-engineering is on track. The three-year project is a significant upgrade and replace task. “We have fixed the basic service and the outsourcing relationship gives us a better level of services,” says Coupland. “Cost cutting is always with us, but we are offering business value and support to information management and flow as well. We also have a modern customer and supply chain, giving secure effective access to the data our customers and suppliers need.”

“We have a modern customer and supply chain, giving secure effective access”
– Chris Coupland, IT director, BAE