We meet with Josh Rice, 4C Business Development Manager, to discuss military training, banking, and his passion for engaging individual soldiers in their exercises with new technology.
Hi Josh, tell us a bit about your background.
Following university and a gap year of travels, I commissioned into the British Army Royal Artillery. I spent five years in various specialised roles culminating in an Operational deployment to Afghanistan as a Forward Air Controller with the Brigade Reconnaissance Force. It was, and always will be, the biggest honour and most rewarding time of my life.
After that, you left the army?
That’s right, on my return from Afghanistan I decided it was time for a change. I’ve always been interested in global geo-political events and their impact on financial markets, particularly foreign exchange. So, I went into the high-pressure world of investment banking with Goldman Sachs in Asia Pacific. I spent five years in Operations, managing teams, projects and products around the globe, and rising to the position of Executive Director. Eventually, I decided that it was time for a new challenge, which is how I ended up back in the UK at 4C.
What appealed to you about 4C?
There were multiple things. I wanted to experience the consulting world and join a growing company with an exciting technology where I could add value from the get-go. I also wanted to regain some level of military involvement. 4C fit the bill nicely. I was also intrigued with the idea of working closely with a team of ex-military specialists with a passion for improving how training is designed, delivered and exploited. That they had all succeeded in in transitioning to civilian life was a big plus; the culture, growth and potential was also very appealing.
What is your role at 4C?
I’m a Technical Project and Business Development Manager, which essentially means I get great bandwidth to chase, scope, own and develop client solutions – front to back – drawing on the great teams, products and experiences we have at 4C across the world. It suits me perfectly as I’m involved in strategic discussions one minute and the next, I’m scrutinising the details for client solutions and how we can drive our software forward using emerging technologies. 4C is a fast-moving company where you get to see the direct result of your work. As is the case with MyMIMIR.
Can you tell us a bit about MyMIMIR?
MIMIR is the British Army’s deployment of the Exonaut training and exercise management software, which focuses on collective training across the Live, Virtual and Constructive Spectrum. MyMIMIR focuses on Fight, Think and Move (the Conceptual, Moral, Physical components of Fighting Power) from an individual training perspective, bringing a unique level of granularity into the equation. This enables the British Army to engage soldiers in their personal training objectives in a completely different way and helps them to build individuals’ capabilities using our data-driven software. It’s the next step beyond sub-units and battalions. Ultimately, it will provide greater motivation and insight for individual soldiers while creating a richer understanding of training effectiveness, progression and risk for their chain of command.
Who has been involved in the development of MyMIMIR?
Obviously, the British Army have been central to MyMIMIR. It’s being driven by the Collective Training Group (CTG) as they seek to utilise emerging technology. And then there’s the team at 4C, which includes our military consultants who are part of the deployment and planning of future releases, and of course our UK and global development teams who have worked in rapid sprints to build a launch-ready solution which is now being tested in the field. Most recently it was used in a seven-week exercise in Germany by soldiers from Royal Welsh to track performance in a live fire and tactical engagement simulation (TES) during camp based activities.
How did your background help when developing MyMIMIR?
It’s key. I’m constantly drawing on both my military and Goldman experience to shape my approach to MyMIMIR and my work in general at 4C. Understanding the military, the doctrines and how they operate, and being able to apply learnings from the financial world, has proven invaluable not only in developing the solution but also in nurturing the long-term relationship we have with the British Army.
How is MyMIMIR typically used?
We like to think of it as an advanced Strava-like tool for soldiers where individuals and their commanders can visually track, analyse and understand individual training progression within the context of the training being delivered.
As a soldier you log in to MyMimir through the mobile app to access a personalised user interface with overviews and detailed visualisations of your performance as well as a list of the activities you are involved in, including where you need to be and when. We have even uploaded questions sets, films and studies for them to view and complete when not doing exercises. We really thought about how to make the user experience engaging and value-adding for soldiers. So far, the feedback has been great.
Commanders, on the other hand, get the aggregated views of their soldiers’ performance, with leadership boards and highlighted areas for attention. They can create serials and tag their soldiers while noting observations on a soldier’s performance during an exercise. When overlaid with its big brother MIMIR and the performance indicators within it at the collective level, Commanders can see their true status of training readiness or at the very least their performance on an exercise.
What environments is MyMIMIR best suited for?
MyMIMIR can be employed across the live, virtual and constructive (LVC) domains. One of the challenges we faced in development was that we can’t rely on the internet for data as so many of today’s tracking tools do. In many cases the army collective training establishments are internet-free zones be it for security and/or geographical reasons – you can’t order an Uber in the jungles of Belize or the plains of Kenya. MyMIMIR draws on available data sources – such as the Tactical Engagement Simulation (TES) system – to provide the training progression picture so it can be utilised across the entire LVC spectrum, within the Collective Training Exercise Management System (CTEMS).
Thanks to the combination of subjective (individuals/Commanders giving their own observations) and objective data tracking, the results can be exploited to provide individual performance evaluation which can be stored and further exploited in the long term through the application of emerging technologies like AI and ML.
Exonaut, configured as MyMimir as an application to track, analyse and display individual key performance indicators, is featured in the July edition of the British Army’s Soldier Magazine.
How would you have benefited from MyMIMIR when serving in the British Army?
I remember when in the Army and on exercises, I had no idea how my individual performance was being observed or how good my individual output was. It would have been great to have a tool to keep me informed and to motivate me to improve my performance. Also, when I look back to combat, you rely heavily on the soldiers around you. Knowing they have been following their progression and training in the different areas necessary to achieve individual and group objectives would have provided everybody with an extra degree of confidence. MyMIMIR helps ensure soldiers are the best prepared they can be, which is what everybody wants.
What is on the MyMIMIR roadmap?
We’re excited to keep pressing forward with MyMIMIR and the British Army. Long term it will be great to see a lake of data built through MyMIMIR, MIMIR and CTEMS and to see how it can be exploited to further support the army. Our data scientists are already exploring what is possible through machine learning using structured and unstructured data and I fully expect this to be a gamechanger for the future of collective training. Outside of that we’re looking and researching edge technologies to add significant value to our solution offerings. As our military clients become more technologically sophisticated and their demands increase it’s an exciting challenge to stay well ahead of that curve and maintain our position as the provider of the world’s leading training and exercise management solution.
Finally, what do you do in your free time?
My wife and I take any excuse we can to get to the coast and enjoy the surf. Having been in Australia for the last five years it’s hard to go more than a few weeks without the rejuvenation of fresh saltwater! When I’m landlocked I enjoy golf and the odd drink with friends.