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MoD appoints Charles Forte as new CIO, replacing Mike Stone

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has appointed former deputy group CIO of oil giant BP, Charles Forte, as its new chief information officer (CIO).

Forte was selected following an open selection process that considered both internal military and civilian candidates, as well as candidates from outside the MoD.

He will begin in the role later this month, and will be responsible for the development of MoD strategy and policy on the operation and protection of all MoD information and communications technology, including cyber security.

His most recent role was as interim CIO at Thames Water which began in June 2017. Before this, between March 2015 and December 2016, he was CEO of group IT services at financial services company Prudential.

This was preceded by various IT roles over more than two decades at BP, where he ended up as deputy CIO and CIO of global operations.

Forte will replace Mike Stone, who left the job nine months ago to take on a post at professional services firm KPMG. Lieutenant General Ivan Hooper, who had been acting as both the CEO of information systems and services and the defence CIO in the interim, will hand over the latter role to Forte at the end of the month.

A large part of the role for Forte will involve making maximum use of big data. 

Last year, the government said it was looking for data scientists with expertise in AI and machine learning to help the MoD and other departments to extract and analyse critical information in a bid to stay “one step ahead” of terrorists and other potential adversaries.

“Let’s be honest, if the MoD is going to maintain a winning edge and keep our forces safe we are going to have to handle today’s most valuable commodity, data, very differently,” the job advert for the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) said.

It added that MoD sensors pick-up and stream hundreds of terabytes of data per hour, including images, radar, speech, text, maps, vehicle data, medical data, and data that is both open and hidden.

“Out of this avalanche we must extract critical information and bring it together to gain the vital insights that keep our defence and security one step ahead.

“No one can read it all; these days, making the links and protecting the UK at home and abroad depends on the right fusion of human and machine abilities. That’s where you come in,” the job advert explained.

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