When these prophetic words were written a decade and a half ago, few people could fathom the impact that information technology eventually would have on everything we do. At that time in the Navy, we viewed ourselves as ahead of the pack in the employment of the microprocessor. Computers, automated fire-control systems, and tactical data links already were used widely throughout the fleet. But these were merely improvements on technologies that we already had: tactical displays were replacing grease-pencil boards, computerized parts requisitions were replacing handwritten ones, and data links were replacing voice transmissions. Though more automated, the procedures we followed to carry out our missions and our daily business essentially were unchanged.
The tools had improved, but the processes had not.
Today we stand at the brink of a major revolution in how we conduct military affairs, from both an operational and a support standpoint. As the information age in the Navy is poised to enter the third phase of development, we must go beyond simply improving our tools, and instead leverage those tools to fundamentally change our processes.