You are here

Harry Truman Part Trois

Facebook LinkedIn Google+ Twitter


Part three of the three part series

Written by Dan Hoffman

There is no question that the Harry Truman was built using some of the most sophisticated technology on the planet.You feel it the second you step into the Command Center. So what do they use for the phone system on-board?

Funny. I've never seen more old-school analog handsets on one wall in my life. There's a different color handset for every process: landing planes, steering the boat, talking to shore, talking to weapons, ordering food (just kidding, I made that up).

Everyone in the corporate world is on a mission to unify communications yet these guys seem to be moving in the opposite direction.I asked the captain why they don’t utilize the latest communications technologies? He said: "oh, we email and text and chat a lot now. But when it matters, in a mission-critical, emergent situation, it has to be voice." And I thought, what a great validation of M5 Networks’ strategy!

Afterwards I had the opportunity to spend about an hour talking to the CSO, the ship's CTO. As it turns out, on the back-end they are in fact using state-of-the-art communications tools. They use high-end Cisco, mostly. (well, not quite "state-of-the-art" - he'd just been involved with an R&D project for the Navy that concluded Google's email operation was ten times more efficient and much more secure than anything the armed forces was running…). They also have complete radio backup for all communications, which is run on a separate network entirely.That said, the phone handsets are the hardest thing to change. Said the CSO, "It is about process.When you change work processes, you risk second and third-order consequences that can take ten years to iron out. We can't afford for that to happen with our communications in a battle situation.When the captain grabs the red phone, it kicks off a mission-critical workflow."

I felt this was particularly thought-provoking when you earn a living applying communications technologies to produce real business impact, don’t you think?