"It's more than just a web board used for posting information," Bullock explained. "Portals offer a complete virtual work and communication environment – a place for sharing information and knowledge."
U.S. European Command offers a similar, yet more complex portal, one component of the command's collaborative information environment, where the command and certain allied forces can share knowledge.
"What we find ourselves doing in the knowledge management field is explaining, training, cajoling and putting knowledge management into context for each other," Bullock added. "Our task is to explain to people, to show them, and demonstrate that knowledge management is good for them.
"This is not just something new that's here to interfere with the way you do your work," Bullock explained. "Knowledge management is a force multiplier. It makes things better for you."
Basically, there are two types of knowledge sharing: asynchronous and synchronous.
Asynchronous knowledge sharing occurs in delayed time. For example, a document, video file or journal could be located on a portal and worked on by different organizations at different times.
Synchronous knowledge sharing, on the other hand, operates in real time and usually takes place with people who know each other, using online "meeting-ware" that enables them to meet in a virtual environment."
"We can hold a virtual meeting where employees throughout the world can share thoughts and collaborate on the same document or presentation at the same time," Aschenbrenner said.
The meetings can be held on classified or unclassified lines and everybody within the command – from the highest ranking officials and below – can share information within the collaborative information environment.
It's a much faster and more efficient way of sharing knowledge than the traditional physical routing of information between individuals.
According to Bullock, the younger generation is excited about such technology. Older, experienced employees are more skeptical. They want it to be proven to them that technology will improve the work place before they change existing work habits.
"Their skepticism is welcomed," Bullock said. "That's actually good for knowledge management because it keeps us honest! It keeps us from just saying, 'Hey, this technology is new, so let's just implement it.'
"By taking the time to explain knowledge management and train users, young and not-so-young, throughout the command, the knowledge management team ensures that what technology is implemented from day to day is really a force improvement and not just a change, for change sake," he emphasized.
"Knowledge management, in general, is not about the technology. The technology is a means to an end," Bullock said. "The end is a better, more thorough exchange of understanding between people who have a need-to-share awareness."
"Information is an intermediate step," Bullock explained. "The key is to exchange information that makes a difference...information, which in military terms, is actionable."