Unit Cycle dictates knowledge management posture

Where your unit is in the Army Forces Generation cycle dictates how it approaches knowledge management activities. For example, when you begin a cycle, usually at the conclusion of an operation or deployment, knowledge workers gather observations and best practices, archive and catalog good ideas and best practices, and finally improve processes that did not […]

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Cloud Computing, You are Probably already doing it.

Imagine the amount of fat, bloated programs that hog your computer’s storage and it only seems to grow. Or those wonderful digital cameras and digital video images you have been collecting for the last couple of years. And you wouldn’t want to forget about videos, podcast and other rich media that you just want to hold on to like a digital packrat. So much so that it seems we have to yearly buy larger hard drives, more memory sticks or add portable storage devices to hold all our files like the 21st century version of a time capsule. When it comes to an organization, especially a large one, those costs in hardware and software all translate to money. Well along came Cloud Computing and unless you have been paying close attention you may have never heard the term, but you might have been doing it for a number of years.

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Cloud Computing is best explained as IT capabilities offered as a service. The Cloud is a long-used word describing the Internet, but when used with Computing some believe the term is not often understood. To add further confusion, Cloud Computing is similar, but distinctly different from another concept called Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). In comparing the two, an April 2008 Gartner report differentiates the two as “cloud computing refers to the bigger picture…basically the broad concept of using the internet to allow people to access technology-enabled services. SaaS is software that’s owned, delivered, and managed remotely by one or more providers.”

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Are you Wiki?

Are you Wiki?
“Wiki” (/wi:ki:/), a Hawaiian word for “fast,” are web pages that can be quickly edited by any visitor. It is a web based program that is used to create collaborative workspaces that users freely create and edit Web page content using any Web browser. Wiki supports hyperlinks and has simple text syntax for creating new pages and cross links between internal pages on the fly.

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One of the most popular sites within the public domain is Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org), an encyclopedia written collaboratively by volunteers from all around the world and anyone with internet access can make changes to Wikipedia articles. Since its creation in 2001, Wikipedia attracts 684 million visitors yearly. There are more than 75,000 active contributors working on more than 10,000,000 articles in more than 260 languages. That is a collaboration project to envy.

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But did you know that the same wiki capability exists in the .mil domain today? There are a number of wiki software programs and hosts in use for your own collaboration activities on both NIPR and SIPR and you only need be an authorized user of government networks to gain access to these free (to you) resources. Some sites are targeted to specific activities like Intelink (https://www.intelink.gov), which has a goal to promote intelligence dissemination and business workflow. Intelink is actually multiple sites, Intelink-U, Intelink-S and Intelink-TS which are all on various networks.

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Why Have a Portal?

Author Paul Bryan reported in the Intranet Journal* a result of a survey where an oft heard complaint was about low usage of company portals. In his attempt to narrow factors contributing to negative reviews, one of the key challenges he found was “often a result of focusing on technical requirements rather than the real-life context of the system.” Sounds like another example of missing the other two elements of good KM…the People and Processes that support the underlying Technology. Give ’em a portal but don’t show them why they need it, how to use it, or help them change their internal procedures to support it. As Maxwell Smart would say, “ah, The Oldest Trick in the Book!”

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Is that a problem in your work area, are there portals at your disposal that are little understood or seldom used? Who needs these portals anyway, I have lived without them for all this time, why do should I use one now? Be it an organizational Sharepoint server, the Army’s Knowledge Online enterprise portal, or one of the communities of practice that have proliferated in the .mil domain, these online internet (or intranet) presences are something you should be paying attention to. I suggest that you may have the technology, but do your people know how to best employ them and have your operating procedures adapted to using them yet? 

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