MilBook, a Department of Defense (DoD) professional networking tool, received one of the Army's top knowledge management awards for providing outstanding knowledge-based capabilities and solutions in support of the Army's mission.
"What we really stand for and the value that we represent is connecting people to people, and people to information," said Justin Filler, deputy director of MilTech Solutions.
By facilitating the implementation and expansion of KM principles and practices within the Army, milBook received the 2010 Army Knowledge Management (AKM) Award in the technology category. Lt. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sorenson, Army Chief Information Officer (CIO)/G-6, presented the award Aug. 3 during the LandWarNet Conference at the Tampa Convention Center in Tampa, Fla.
The AKM Awards Program recognizes outstanding individuals, group or organizational efforts that have implemented some or all of the 12 AKM Principles in support of mission goals and objectives. This year's award theme is, "Army knowledge management: meeting mission objectives by connecting those who know with those who need to know."
"Milbook is the ultimate professional networking capability," said Emerson Keslar, director of MilTech Solution. "I don't know of any capability that does a better job connecting those who know with those who need to know, so I think it is so fitting that milBook was selected for this award under this theme."
As the Army's internal Facebook solution, milBook is an AKO/DKO community site dedicated to connecting people from across the DoD. This professional media tool provides a secure venue for knowledge transfer and the sharing of diverse perspectives worldwide. Because it sits securely behind a firewalled network, it allows the DoD to share official non-classified internal information, opening new avenues of communications among its personnel.
According to Filler, the DoD's services and agencies can be compared to a string of small businesses that have their own budgets, objectives and missions. MilBook is bridging the gap between those agencies, tearing down their borders and creating an open market place where everyone can collaborate and share ideas on a single platform.
"So essentially we have taken all of these small businesses and created a mall," Filler said. "Once you come into the mall, you have access to each business."
MilBook, which has reached over 76,000 users since its inception in October 2009, is part of a suite of tools known as milSuite that also includes a blog and wiki. MilWiki also won the 2009 AKM Award for technology.
Previously, the DoD lacked a medium for employees to share official and sometimes sensitive information. MilBook provides several options for users who wish to share information with specific individuals. By creating discussion threads, they can exchange ideas among specific, self-created groups on topics such as Army policies. The information can either be restricted to that user or shared with the entire milBook community, Filler said. Regardless, it will always remain behind the firewall.
"MilBook allows the DoD community to connect around a topic, team or organization," Keslar said. "It allows those with a like interest or working on in similar area to connect, share and communicate."
Like the other MilSuite products, milBook is a grassroots initiative. The MilBook management team looks to the user community to set its rules and boundaries, as well as manage and control content.
"That concerns many people, but we have proven that it actually has increased the value of the content and the relevance and reliability of the data in these systems because they are maintained by the community and the community has a stake in its accuracy," Keslar said.
In the future, Keslar said that he would like to see milBook become more integrated with other IT capabilities such as IM/chat, email, document sharing, file sharing, and have it become the platform that the workforce uses to collaborate across the DoD.
"All of those functions such as email and IM/chat are supporting capabilities around the whole idea of professional networking, but standing alone like they are today, they represent stovepiped capabilities," Keslar said. "We have to break down the barriers of how we collaborate, share and network among the service components, and I believe MilBook can go a long way in starting to break down those barriers."