Boeing Frontiers
July 2002 
Volume 01, Issue 03 
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My View

Technology: for the customers' sake

Phil Condit
Chairman and CEO

Phil ConditI've watched a lot of first flights. They're all pretty exciting. But as I watched the first flight of the X-45A Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle recently, I realized this one was very different. My experience has been that there are always problems on first flights, and therefore pilots are pretty important elements. With the X-45A, though, the system needed to work on the first try. There was no pilot to call up the rest of the team and say "Hey, this isn't working right now; what should I do?" It had to work right the first time. I found that uniquely different. I think it shows how far we are, in fact, pushing technology.

Think of how much Boeing is really doing to move into new frontiers. We're working on new commercial airplanes like the Sonic Cruiser. We're working on really exciting military aircraft like UCAV and other unmanned systems. We're investing in system-of-systems projects like those that the Boeing Integration Center helps us visualize and demonstrate. We're seeing incredible thinking coming out of Phantom Works and the Chairman's Innovation Initiative.

All of our research-and-development efforts have a common denominator. They aim at creating a technology base that our customers can put into action. We don't develop technology for its own sake; we develop capabilities that solve our customers' problems.

To do that, we need to tie in to — and understand — our customers so well that we anticipate their future needs. If we do this right, we will be creating products and services at just the time that our customers are seeking the kinds of solutions we have to offer. This is the approach we are taking today with Air Traffic Management, Connexion by Boeing and other concepts, and it's a process we need to refine as we move into next-square opportunities.

We will be successful by first understanding our customers' future needs and developing affordable, workable solutions — not by developing technologies and then trying to talk our customers into them. If we do the first, we will maximize our investments; if we do the latter, we will marginalize them. Ultimately, our approach will mean the difference between the company's growth or stagnation and decline (and, consequently, the difference between opportunity for our people's development or the erosion of jobs).

Our people — and our willingness to work together and learn from each other — are key to reaching our goal of achieving undisputed leadership in useful technology. There's no question that Boeing is already acknowledged as a company that puts technology into action, but I would like to see us breaking out of our silos; cooperating across business units; and getting involved with our current and future customers earlier. Let's meet our customers in the market-development and analytical arena that defines what the end-user will find most practical. This way, we can most effectively identify what kinds of future solutions our various customers prefer.

Nobody is more excited than I am about how well we are doing in this area, and nobody is more impatient to make further progress. Together, we can make Boeing the name that is unequivocally synonymous with leadership in useful technology.


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