How to Launch Your IT Into Orbit

How to Launch Your IT Into Orbit

Technical innovation, IT, and architecture integration all join together seamlessly in this explosive episode of the Digital Transformation Pioneers podcast.

This is the kind of interview you hope for.

Andrzej Goryca’s life mission is nothing less than his LinkedIn profile claims: to help create the “Enterprise of 2030 in 2020.”

He’s the Sr. Enterprise Systems Manager at Virgin Orbit, where they’re launching satellites from the wingspan of a jumbo jet (more on that later).

Before Virgin, Andrzej was a Product Manager and Lead Master Scheduler at SpaceX.

At Virgin, he combined his IT background, the business acumen from his MBA, as well his computer science chops from his Master of Science in Robotics, to deliver a powerful message on digital transformation.

In this episode, he discusses why IT must be at the center of innovation, digital integration in enterprise management, and how to navigate the constant revolution of modern technology.

Technical Innovation: Launching Rockets From Airplanes

We’ll get to the IT. But first, we had to ask about what’s going on with the oft-touted Cosmic Girl.

“The term of yesterday was ‘continuous improvement.’ The term of tomorrow is ‘continuous innovation.’”
— Andrzej Goryca

On the outside, this plane may look like a commercial carrier that will take you from LA to Singapore.

Looks don’t tell the full story.

Cosmic Girl is a Boeing 747 that has been re-designed to launch rockets, mid-flight.

Cosmic Girl will take off from a airport (technically, spaceport) with a rocket strapped to its wing. While flying, the rocket will detach, and then go through various phases before releasing its payload (usually a satellite) into low Earth orbit. (In case you were wondering, that makes Cosmic Girl the first use of a 747 as a space launch platform.)

The primary business of Virgin Orbit is to do just that — provide commercial satellite launches. The company is often confused with its sister company Virgin Atlantic, which specifically targets space tourism.

Why IT & Enterprise Architecture Must Be at the Center of Innovation

As you can imagine, an ambitious endeavor that includes a variety of world firsts requires a ballet of top-level thinkers and problem-solvers.

Andrzej said that IT and enterprise architecture are at the core of all this innovation, providing a critical role in creating an agile enterprise, which is a necessity in order to compete in Industry 4.0. These crucial functions help with cost reduction, speed up efficiency, and provide the backdrop for company-wide functionality.

When the IT systems are running smoothly and cohesively, valuable dollars are freed up to pour into innovative initiatives. Further, when the enterprise system is functioning seamlessly within and between departments, valuable creativity is channeled appropriately.

Andrzej is really part of the magic here: Much of his technical chops and industry know-how were honed while at SpaceX. But there, many of the groundwork for the enterprise systems were laid before his arrival. At Virgin Orbit, he’s been the architect of the entirety of their enterprise architecture, and he’s seen firsthand how seamless integration can impact the other areas of business.

Systems Integration Is Mission Critical

When deploying solutions and managing IT for such a vast network, the obvious can become vital: You have to choose the right systems for the right processes (HR isn’t going to use the same system the same way as manufacturing).

“Integration is critical.”
— Andrzej Goryca

Further, integration is critical. When you are trying to consistently use a commercial jetliner to launch satellites, information exchange matters. Apparently, a lot.

This is where we at Jitterbit are proud to be involved. We were Andrzej’s choice to help with systems integration.

Read how Jitterbit helped Virgin Orbit use their Data to Drive Critical Business Results.

According to him, here’s why:

  1. Ease: It was extremely easy for Virgin Orbit to onboard our integration platform, compared to third-party options to handle complex code and manual integrations.
  2. Agnostic nature: You don’t know what applications you’ll need to integrate down the road as your business grows and in today’s world, forecasting that is nearly impossible. Jitterbit is not a bolt-on piece of sideware that will slow you down when new software is introduced. Rather, its agnostic nature integrates well with, … everything.
  3. Forward-looking technology. (Hey, he said it!) We are constantly looking forward, leveraging APIs and modernizing our technology.

Lastly: Be Ready for Revolution, Not Evolution

It would be easy to say technology is constantly evolving. But Andrzej said we must forget evolution, and be ready for constant revolution.

You must continually ask yourself: “Is what I am doing today the best practice for tomorrow?”

You must be willing to forsake traditional methods and concepts.

That is, if you want to launch a rocket into space.

From a 747.

Taken from an interview with Andrzej Goryca from Virgin Orbit. Hear more from other Digital Transformation Pioneers.

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