The traditional approach to information-sharing within the armed forces is to push it from the centre outwards, essentially following a chain of command model. This leads to standardised formats, with documents, manuals and reports often aimed at multiple users. The upshot is that the facts a person in a specific role needs are often buried among extraneous details. Then there’s a waste of time looking for what’s wanted, or the information is not found in time – if at all.
Much of today’s operational military information is like a vast newspaper covering global, national and local news, with the different stories only roughly structured into sections. Readers can move between different parts of individual stories that interest them, or subscribe to alerts and feeds to keep them up to date. The analogy in the military would be with strategic, operational and tactical information and the ability to have “individual stories” of relevant information for each rank or role delivered as and when they’re needed.
Ideally, there needs to be a balance between pushing essential information out from the centre and pulling snippets needed by a user from central databases, with the pull process being very quick and simple.
This may sound like a naïve, perfectionist vision of a faraway future but the reality is that all the technologies needed to provide Information Enabled Capability already exist. However, the technology used is immaterial to the concept, just as the technology supplying information to your home is neither here nor there, so long as it arrives when you want it.
Three things are needed to create Information Enabled Capability: trusted, reliable, assured data sources; app creators who can pluck and reconfigure data from these stores – and the impetus to put the idea in place.