Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania - As information technology (IT) rapidly advances, the use of mobile applications and artificial intelligence (AI) will continue to impact Navy decision-makers well into the future.

“To make the proper decisions, you need the data,” said Ryan Celesnik, project manager for the Enterprise Web Team at Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) Business Systems Center (BSC). “We put that information in front of those decision-makers through online dashboards and portals.” 

NAVSUP BSC is creating an agile, networked enterprise that streamlines and simplifies business processes by developing a sustained data-centric enterprise that leverages rapid advancement of technology.

“Speed and time to market are essential,” said Celesnik. “We have the ability to build responsive websites for progressive web apps that look and act just like mobile apps.”

From custom web applications and mobile app development to enterprise-wide collaboration, the Enterprise Web Team at NAVSUP BSC is modernizing the way our Supply Corps does business and shares information.

“For a basic app that displays simple content and has a small function or two, we can do that in a few weeks. Apps that require a greater level of development and functionality, personalization, and customization, can be done in a couple of months,” he said.

Enterprise-wide tools and apps such as the Husbanding Support Portal, Inspector General Portal, Hazmat Control and Management Application, and eSUPPO app, all reduce administrative tasks that result in more time for cognitive tasks and decision making. 

“That directly impacts lethality and readiness,” said Celesnik.

“There are unlimited use cases for mobile app development in the Navy today; however, we must be cognizant of security and develop appropriate security requirements into our development life cycle. As a government organization, we’re required to enable cryptographic login for all secure web applications through common access card (CAC) and public key infrastructure (PKI),” he said. 

While the technology currently exists to authenticate using CAC/PKI with devices and utilize secure mobile apps, it requires additional hardware and a custom browser or app to create the connection.

“We’re excited to get the go-ahead and explore that functionality within the enterprise soon,” said Celesnik. “Once an approved method is established, you could be able to do much more on your phone such as; get stock status from One-Touch Support, results from Commercial Asset Visibility, and integrated collaboration and social engagement with business partners, peers, and leadership within an organization.”

As time progresses, we can expect more web connectivity in our work environment. Data and the web will continue to grow and become more integrated into both our personal and professional lives. 

This transition is already taking place in our personal lives with the development of web-connected smart devices for your home. Digital assistants, thermostats, security systems, and even refrigerators are avenues for connection.

“Behind all of that is mounds of data,” said Celesnik. "Data is going to get bigger, and the need for web connectivity is going to get bigger. That integration of web and massive amounts of data will be overwhelming. 

“You’re going to need somebody to help you, the human worker, to do your job. A digital assistant that uses AI to help make decisions and assist when humans are off the clock,” he said. 

Having that digital employee who's always connected could become more prevalent in the workplace and require a need for web and mobile apps to help govern and manage them.

“When you have a bot or AI that can work around the clock, that’s where we can get a lot of return on investment. When you’re looking to do workforce planning and staffing, you’ll need to think about ‘how many digital employees do I need in addition to how many organic folks I have.’

“I think that’s going to be the next frontier for the Navy,” he said.

In order for the Navy to shift to an innovative culture of technology using AI; security concerns, the potential for error, and fears will need to be mitigated over time.

“The same risks of using AI are already present today with our people. We need to be progressive and savvy enough to have countermeasures and governance in place to mitigate those risks, just as we do with our people,” said Celesnik.

As with most technological advances, such as incorporating the Internet or purchasing items online with a credit card, initial resistance is expected. 

“I can remember when people were dead-set against online shopping. Fears of someone stealing your credit card number or it not being a tested and legitimate process were justified. We have to go through that process of fear to change our mindset, mitigate risk, and effectively govern the process,” he said.

Once the benefits of AI are clearly understood and seen, it will become more commonplace and somewhat pervasive in the workplace.

In a recent article from Pew Research Center, “Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Humans,” the opinions of 979 experts were weighed during the summer of 2018 and noted common concerns and suggested solutions.

Topping the concerns were: human agency (individuals' loss of control over their lives), data abuse, job loss, dependence lock-in (reduction of individuals’ cognitive, social and survival skills), and mayhem (autonomous weapons, cybercrime, and weaponized information).

According to Pew Research Center, suggested solutions to concerns among these experts determined that “Global good is No. 1: Improve human collaboration across borders and stakeholder groups. Digital cooperation to serve humanity's best interests is the top priority. Ways must be found for people around the world to come to common understandings and agreements, to join forces to facilitate the innovation of widely accepted approaches aimed at tackling wicked problems and maintaining control over complex human-digital networks.

“Values-based system: Develop policies to assure AI will be directed at ‘humanness’ and common good. Adopt a 'moonshot mentality' to build inclusive, decentralized intelligent digital networks 'imbued with empathy' that help humans aggressively ensure that technology meets social and ethical responsibilities. Some new level of regulatory and certification process will be necessary.

“Prioritize people: Alter economic and political systems to better help humans ‘race with the robots.’ Reorganize economic and political systems toward the goal of expanding humans' capacities and capabilities in order to heighten human/AI collaboration and staunch trends that would compromise human relevance in the face of programmed intelligence.”

Seamless integration of information provides sustained military advantages globally and maintains the key capability of resilient and agile logistics for a more lethal force.

Sailors today are depending more on web connectivity and mobile devices for information, learning, and productivity.

As technology continues to advance rapidly, expect to see more mobile app development and AI used in the workplace. NAVSUP BSC and the Enterprise Web Team have developed more than 100 apps to date, and continuously field calls from DoD customers and Supply Corps officers looking for innovative ways to accelerate digital solutions and modernize business processes.

NAVSUP BSC provides the Navy with information systems support through the design, development, and maintenance of information systems in the functional areas of logistics, supply chain management, transportation, finance, and accounting and is one of 11 commands under Commander, NAVSUP. Headquartered in Mechanicsburg, Pa., and employing a diverse, worldwide workforce of more than 22,500 military and civilian personnel, NAVSUP’s mission is to provide supplies, services, and quality-of-life support to the Navy and joint warfighter.