3 Tips for Selecting an Aerospace IT Platform

Article by Avatara’s VP of Sales, Kraig Kubicek, originally published in Aerospace Manufacturing & Design Magazine

The aerospace industry’s infrastructure depends significantly on information technology (IT). That relationship isn’t without its challenges, though.

For example, consider the complex cybersecurity compliance that aerospace firms must attain. Beginning in the mid- to-late 2010s, they were required to be compliant with International Traffic in Arms Regulations and Defense Federal Acquisition Federal Regulation Supplement/Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification.

Then, there are concerns surrounding the maintenance and updating of CAD software and similar hardware systems. These are typically a sizable expense and a logistical headache, so a platform that provides reliable CAD support for remote workforces is crucial.

Finally, there’s a challenge associated with data storage requirements growing with workflow. Failing to secure and back up data correctly can cause massive disruptions down the road. Given all these challenges, the right IT platform is critical to success.

Choosing the right IT platform

Investing in a rock-solid IT platform can put a manufacturer on a path to achieve the growth it’s always targeted. The right IT platform must be the centerpiece of operations. But it’s often unclear the right way to identify the qualities needed in a platform. Here are a few things to consider:

1. Thoroughly vet technology providers.

Ask any provider for examples of how it has helped other companies that deal with the same day-to-day technology and workflows. Aerospace is a complex industry so it’s important that any vendor brought on board has in-depth experience in line with company operations.

Once options are narrowed, arrange to tour the provider’s data centers and begin analyzing its approach to security. Look for potential vulnerabilities, including natural disaster risk, neighborhood crime, and the facility’s potential structural problems. Also, be sure to note whether your presence in the building was properly vetted. Collect a comprehensive report on every IT platform option to make the most informed decision possible.

2. Make sure to have access to all the hardware the entire workforce will need.

This requirement includes servers, phones, desktops, laptops, etc. Bonus points if all equipment is included in a cost-per-user subscription model, which will save an immense amount of capital.

Protect the investment by making sure the chosen IT platform is truly 24/7 to accommodate weekend work and various time zones. This round-the-clock surveillance is critical in improving mean time to detect (the length of time between when a problem arises and when it’s detected). Considering the precarious nature of aerospace exploration, the platform needs to be prepared and primed to detect any equipment lag.

3. Look at the whole picture.

Think holistically. IT needs to integrate concerns at all levels — shop floor, administrative area, and engineering departments. Addressing only some aspect of the operations is like saying you have a rowboat that’s fantastic other than the gaping hole in one end of it.

Any point left improperly supported by IT and top-notch security is a massive vulnerability, so be sure there are no such gaps. And keep scalability in mind. As new clients are acquired or new employees hired, it’s important to seamlessly integrate them into operations at a predictable per-user-per-month pricing model. This matters greatly when competing in a complex industry that’s tightly regulated for compliance. Scalability is also a major factor when positioning to sell the company or acquire another.

The right IT platform can factor significantly in how secure and effective your aerospace operations are. So don’t delay in doing due diligence. Consider these three concerns, plan carefully, and then select a platform that’s right for your needs.