Network Computing is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Sea Change: On Location With the Navy

In this 'On Location' documentary-style case study we take to the high seas to explore the U.S. Navy's Knowledge Online project. NKO is driven by the business of the Navy--making a lean, mean, sea-borne fighting machine. It was built in just four months on a shoestring budget in the face of naysayers who predicted that such a project would take years and billions of dollars. We find out why its creators chose a low-profile vendor, Appian Corp., and allow enlisted personnel to sound off in the NKO discussion boards. Clearly, they're doing something right: NKO is growing at a rate of 1,000 users per day, and was approaching 200,000 at press time.

Under constant threat from an invisible enemy, the U.S. forces in the Middle East are relearning the rules of engagement almost daily. They face what has been described as the new enemy: stealthy, unpredictable and asynchronous, but every bit as deadly as the adversaries who preceded them.

Back home, four active and retired U.S. Navy personnel are engaged in an administrative battle to change the way sailors learn to handle these new threats, with training and collaborative learning delivered by computer on land and at sea. In just nine months and on a shoestring budget, these men have built one of the biggest knowledge management (KM) portals around.

Navy Knowledge Online (NKO), as the portal is called, is part of a broader effort, named Sea Warrior, to re-evaluate every job function in the Navy and quickly match sailors' credentials with the skills needed to fight a decentralized and mobile enemy, according to Rear Admiral Kevin Moran, who is in charge of enlisted naval training.

What's striking is not so much the size of the NKO portal--165,000 users and adding 1,000 more per day--but how hands-off the ever-authoritarian naval leadership has been in managing the collaboration network. Enlisted personnel are free to express their opinions and can even voice dissent.

  • 1