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Interview

Altay Software “Customer Specific” Military and Civil Information Technologies

An interview with Altay Software CEO – Baki ŞENSOY discusses the company’s balance between defence and civilian projects and Altay’s dedication to customer satisfaction and delivery-oriented work by expanding their range products and solutions. With more than 100 R&D employees specializing in the most advanced technologies, Altay looks forward to 2019 as the year when results of critical projects will be seen in the field

Defence Turkey: Mr. Baki Sensoy, first of all, thank you for taking the time for our interview.  Altay Group has operated in an institutional capacity with activities serving the Turkish Defence Industry spanning over 60 years. Can you inform us about the transition from the early days of establishment to the technological transformation process that started with Altay Software?  

Baki ŞENSOY: Our company was established in 1957. Looking back over the years that have passed we have had many experiences. We’ve learned to face challenges with confidence, diligence and fervency. With every opportunity we created solutions which served our customers by improving their capacity to be successful. 62 years, that’s easier said than done. We have gone through some difficult times. As Altay, we performed our duties properly during the crisis in Cyprus caused by the escalating problems in1974. Here, I would like to emphasize that we are proud of both witnessing and taking on responsibility for the positive development of our Defence Industry. Built on a strong foundation, the institutional structure of Altay traces back to the days of its establishment. The “Continuous Improvement Guidelines” of that time, became the Facility Security, MSB Production, CMMI, DO-178 or ISO certificates of today.

Defence Turkey: Altay software is regarded as one of the leading companies in Turkey with its domain expertise. In this context, can you inform us about your fields of activity, your organizational structure, your engineering and-administrative structure and your R&D center?

Baki ŞENSOY: Altay has approximately 62 years of accumulated expertise in different sectors and fields. In addition, we started our Defence Software journey in 1998. Our R&D center was granted approval by the Ministry of Industry and Technology. Today, we have more than 100 R&D employees specialized in the most advanced technologies. Recently, we renewed our organizational structure to meet the necessities that arose as result of our growth. With our new structure, we aim to provide quicker and more effective solutions for our customers.  At the same time, we want to increase the efficiency of our small number of administrative staffs. In this new structure there is more emphasis on technology management, and we highlight the concepts of “HR and Innovation”.

Defence Turkey: How did you conclude 2018 considering the programs you completed for the military and civilian sector in domestic and foreign markets?

Baki ŞENSOY: Once again, our activities in the defence industry took first place. Additionally, in 2018, we made significant progress in the field that we call Corporate Solutions. Using our knowledge of defence technologies, we increased the number of products that we are developing for the civilian sector. In this regard, we managed to close the year by establishing a balance between defence and civilian existing commitments.

Defence Turkey: In 2003, Altay Software realized Turkey’s first software export as a subcontractor to the Norwegian company Kongsberg with this assumed crucial responsibilities in classified military projects.  Altay broke Turkey’s perception of “western countries do not buy products and platforms from us” in 2003 and perhaps opened a door for numerous companies. What would you like to say about this important export success and other export achievements? Could you briefly inform us about your export performance since 2004 and the products that you have exported?

Baki ŞENSOY: The design and testing of software requested from us with a purchase order in 2003 for an air defence system (Hawk XXI) were completed in 2004. This product was registered as the first defence software export that required an MSB export permit. As you have mentioned, this was a turning point in breaking this perception and encouraging us to export new products in the future. 

In the last period, Altay showed significant export performance.  Referencing this success in figures; within 15 years, we exported products that are safely used by the armed forces of 16 countries. Having the support of our related institutions, we work with perseverance to reiterate this performance we achieved in the defence sector, once again in the civilian sector at an international level.

Defence Turkey: Altay software accomplished various projects in Turkey. Since 2009, Altay software assumed a critical role in web-based software used by the Ministry of National Defence Information System regarding Recruitment, Mobilization, Human Resources, Document Management Roll Call and Incident Report Center and received an important award in 2016 with this particular e-government software. Between 2009 and 2014, an essential role was also assumed in critical projects such as NATO Collaborative Electronic Support Measures Operations (CESMO), Hand-Held Computer Hand Firing Based Calculation Software (ELA) with Roketsan, and with Anti-Submarine Warfare DSH-RAS Rocket Launching System Weapon Control Interface with Roketsan and Aselsan.  These foreign programs reflected international success and created added value. Can you please share some thoughts on this as well as the national capabilities that were gained as a result?

Baki ŞENSOY: Although they may appear as different topics, what lies at the heart of our work is mastering technology and putting oneself in the place of the user authority. As you mentioned, we continue to carry out our responsibilities with great care in the Ministry of National Defence Information System (MBS) project. I would like to expand on this statement; we won the first tender of the Ministry of National Defence and delivered the MBS faultlessly within the projected calendar. We assumed this product’s maintenance and compatibility amidst the changing conditions, acting as the party with the most reasonable approach in open tenders.  As a recent example, in 2018, after the decision was made to provide paid military service, we ensured that the application can run without interruption during the Eid al-Adha. Receiving the appreciation of our Ministry of National Defence on this occasion, once again showed us that winning the most commonly used e-government application award in 2016 was not a coincidence. 

In addition to the Aselsan and Roketsan projects that you have mentioned, we used our experience acquired from providing solutions for Havelsan and Turkish Aerospace to the maximum extent in the international arena. Our performance should be presented clearly and thoroughly in foreign countries. I would like to emphasize the importance of the support provided to SME scale companies, which includes our company Altay, regarding participation in international events.

Defence Turkey: Altay Software assumed a critical role in projects such as “Land Forces Information Exchange Model” for the Turkish Armed Forces, “Command Communication Computer Software”, “Tactical Data Link Center”, and “Launcher Management Computer Simulator” for launcher systems as well as the YUNUS project and the “Virtual Maintenance and Operator Training Assistant” system. Can you inform us about your responsibilities in these projects?

Baki ŞENSOY: All the projects you have mentioned have common characteristics. When the general requirements are defined in these projects, the responsibility of our R&D teams starts. In these projects, you need to have a certain level of field expertise to create detailed requirements about the software. Our seasoned specialists with experience in similar fields undertake this task. Following this stage, we establish the appropriate team and design the required products within the scope of the project requirements.

We verify our products through our independent testing teams. The records of all of our work and related documents are archived. As a result, we can retrieve information whenever needed and fulfill new requests as needed.

Our main objective within the scope of the opportunities provided to us in these projects is to provide maximum benefit by integrating our software to add value to all related vehicles and systems used by the Turkish Armed Forces in the field at an operational and strategic level.

Defence Turkey: What kind of solution will you present in the “Electronic Warfare Operator Training Simulator” project which will simulate all electronic warfare devices? Can you share the current status and delivery processes of the project with us?

Baki ŞENSOY: We assumed a highly critical responsibility in the Electronic Warfare Operator Training Simulator project, which aims to provide an advanced training environment, as a result of the tender opened by MSB. The Analysis and design studies that started in the middle of last year accelerated toward the end of 2018. The Turkish Naval Forces Command made a significant contribution within the scope of this project, which we aim to complete in 2019. A simulator of each of the Electronic Warfare and Support devices in the inventory will be built. In addition, all the necessary software and hardware to create a training environment will be prepared within the scope of the project. If needed, simulations of future products can be easily added to the system thanks to its flexible infrastructure.

Defence Turkey: Apart from the defence industry, having a presence in the civilian sector is vital for a company regarding sustainability. In this context, can you inform us about Altay Software’s activities that are geared toward the civil sector?

Baki ŞENSOY: In terms of technology, military and commercial software have similar characteristics. We attach importance to transforming this technological expertise into different values for sustainability. Particularly, when examined at our responsibilities that we assumed in 2018, it is seen that we began to provide valuable services to the civilian sector. We aim to reach a balance in the distribution of our defence and civilian-related work. One of the most major projects that will serve the civilian sector is the Retail Information System - PERBİS - which is supported by the Ministry of Trade and is aimed to be implemented this year. The Commodity Exchanges and Industrial Information Systems of a similar nature are also other examples of our work in the civilian sector.

Defence Turkey: One of the areas that Altay software attaches importance to is Industry 4.0 digital transformation. What are the R&D studies and investments in this context and how ready is the Defence Industry and Turkey overall, for the Industry 4.0 digital transformation? Can you share some information with us about the projects you have carried out and the necessary steps that need to be taken on this issue?

Baki ŞENSOY: Living in an environment with rapidly transforming technology, as Altay, we put a great emphasis on Industry 4.0. Therefore, due to the fact that we operate in the field of informatics, we work with enthusiasm to do even better. In 2018, we launched and implemented the first version of our Intelligent Production Management Software. 

Our solution includes expert teams. This cost-effective system, by minimizing the technical operating load, will help SMEs in particular. The principal purpose of this product, which can be managed and controlled with their existing staff, is to increase productivity. In doing so, I must mention how much real-time production monitoring will contribute to the managers. These software design criteria include; effective production planning, real-time production monitoring, improving processes and reducing error rates. In 2019, we will focus on the necessary marketing and promotional activities for the expansion of our product while trying to add new capabilities to our product.

Defence Turkey: The Presidency of Defence Industries announced the R&D wide area call for the development of Artificial Intelligence technologies in the past period. We know that you have made substantial investments in this subject. What would you like to say about your work in this context?

Baki ŞENSOY: We responsed the related call with two subjects we had previously worked on. The first of these aims to increase situational awareness and collect open source information in particular. The warnings of artificial intelligence algorithms to be commissioned here will be programmed to detect unexpected information flows. The second subject is the algorithms that learn to design effective and high-quality tactical networks. The network design through which the armed forces share tactical data is highly critical. We have presented a study to the SSB with the aim of increasing efficiency in the field and creating the best network topology. We believe that both studies will be considered and supported.

Defence Turkey: Mr. ŞENSOY, can you please touch on the company’s goals for 2019?

Baki ŞENSOY: Like all actors in the industry, 2019 will be an important year for us. We will have the opportunity to exhibit and evaluate all the products and solutions manufactured by our engineers at the upcoming IDEF event. We are making exceptional efforts to ensure that, following 2018 in which we believe we took all the right steps, that 2019 is also productive. Our new products will be in the field. It will be the year when we see the results of projects that we consider critical. 

Moreover, it is important to be financially efficient while conducting our works as an SME company. The effect of economic fluctuation in 2018 is still noticeable. On the other hand, the number of pending orders became clear. Considering the current situation, although we need to increase our number of personnel, we should be careful when doing so. In line with the business objectives that we have set for ourselves in 2019, we have a growth expectation of 10 to 20% in terms of employees. In summary, by taking the right steps in 2019, we will focus on customer satisfaction and delivery-oriented work by expanding the range of our products and solutions.

Defence Turkey: Where do you see Altay software in the next decade?

Baki ŞENSOY: Established on a strong foundation with 62 years of great dedication, we want to keep Altay’s momentum moving forward for another 60 years. Considering the next 10-year period; we want to continue taking solid steps based on knowledge, just as we have thus far. Naturally, this process will bring forth growth and a variety of capabilities along with it. Our main goal here is to support the localization of our defence industry and to provide contributions to export targets with our products and solutions.

Defence Turkey: Mr. ŞENSOY, is there a message that you would like to convey to the readers of Defence Turkey?

Baki ŞENSOY: Beginning in 1957, throughout the story of the Altay family, we achieved steady performance increases and have made significant progress over the years. Thanks to the trust we have been endowed with, we continue our participation in military and civilian projects.  Being involved in projects of such magnitude at different scales and the level of importance that it conveys over the years is a source of pride for us. I would like to express our deepest regards to all readers of Defence Turkey magazine.