Air Force Knowledge Now

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Air Force Knowledge Now (AFKN) is a web-based collaborative environment developed by Triune Group for the U.S. Air Force (USAF). From 1999 to 2012, AFKN grew to more than 19,000 Communities of Practice (CoPs) and 400,000 members. In 2004, Air Force CIO John M. Gilligan designated AFKN the Air Force Center of Excellence for Knowledge Management, making it the USAF’s only certified and accredited enterprise-wide knowledge management program. By focusing on social, behavioral and cultural aspects of knowledge sharing, AFKN evolved beyond traditional knowledge management systems, which focused on capturing information through technology.

Triune Group has been the prime contractor for the AFKN program since 2004. The USAF extended the AFKN contract through 2015

Triune Group Logo

Guiding principles[edit]

  1. Decentralized approach – let your users lead
  2. Ease of use – make it easy and users will come
  3. Strong support structure – a human touch is critical
  4. Reach – access must be anytime anywhere
  5. Validation – users need to trust the system
  6. Rewards – recognition sweetens the deal
  7. Word-of-mouth cultural shift – users will advertise for you

Focus areas[edit]

The program has two focus areas:

  1. Collaboration Suite: Provides management and maintenance of the Air Force Knowledge Now application; a web-based platform providing knowledge sharing and collaboration through virtual workspaces (called Communities of Practice) offering Web 2.0 functionality. The AFKN approach has always been technology agnostic and the program has embraced new technologies as they have become available.
  2. Knowledge Management Services: Provides consulting services throughout the Air Force to help organizations design and implement knowledge centric solutions, typically on the Air Force Knowledge Now application. These solutions include a KM Maturity Model, Knowledge Retention and Transfer (KR&T) process, and Knowledge Management Workshops (Taxonomy Development, Implementation, Governance, etc.).

Collaboration suite[edit]

Adopting a Communities of Practice (CoPs) architecture, AFKN promotes commitment to working together by building a collective knowledge base around a common vital interest. By going beyond explicit knowledge, which is usually limited to some type of stored information, it reflects the social, behavioral and cultural aspects of knowledge sharing. By focusing on tacit knowledge ("know-how"), true organizational learning occurs, thus creating a more agile and adaptive Air Force.

This web-based collaborative environment allows members of a CoP to use shared information and communications tools to conduct business, manage projects, keep abreast of important group issues, and solve group problems. The capabilities of the AFKN system include:

Capability Description
Document Management System (DMS) File sharing relevant to work and special interests. The DMS includes version control, check in/out, multi-level security, auditing, review periods, etc., and supports all file formats (documents, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, audio, movie files, etc.)
Discussion Forums and Blogs Threaded discussions. Discussion forums enable users to have meaningful group interaction regarding a specific topic, course of study, idea, project, etc. They also can be used for private messaging, blogging, polling, journal entries, and more. Attachments reside within KN’s DMS to leverage all of its features and functionality.
Learning Management System (LMS) Online eLearning. Each workspace has the capability to host and manage its own SCORM version 1.2 training courses. Users can register and take courses, receive/print certificates, and review transcripts. Workspace administrators can create course frameworks (categories of courses), manage students, run reports, and include feedback/questionnaires.
Wiki Collaborative, editable web pages. Wikis allow users to create, delete, modify, and lock web pages through an integrated text editor. Each community has its own Wiki with a dedicated search feature, user-defined tagging, and customizable navigation. Wikis can serve as directories, glossaries, and even intranets. The Wiki is also employed to provide robust on-line help.
Action Item Tracking Assign, update, and track tasks and projects. Users can create and group tasks within projects and provide status updates and history for online review and access. Includes powerful security, parallel tasking, and project management features. Attachments reside within KN’s DMS to leverage all of its features and functionality.
Questionnaires Conduct polls and surveys. Workspace administrators have the ability to use text areas, checkboxes, drop-down lists, and radio buttons to design questionnaires and feedback mechanisms that collect responses from workspace users. Responses can be collected anonymously, if desired, and can also be exported to a spreadsheet for easy analysis and review.
Search and Discovery AFKN search currently indexes all Knowledge Now content (including people and expertise) and several external sources as well.
Alert notifications Users can easily subscribe to be notified as content changes within a workspace, a discussion forum, or even down to an individual document. The alert system aggregates changes in all your work spaces into one clickable email.
Other features Each workspace can also include a Community Calendar, a Mailing List tool, blogs, and many other tools.

Knowledge-management services[edit]

Capabilities that support AFKN are:

  • Comprehensive workshops
  • Online virtual collaboration and sharing
  • Robust Document Management
  • Expertise Locators
  • Integrated E-learning
  • Search/Discovery (powered by Vivisimo Velocity, starting in 2009)
  • Shared Network Folders
  • Threaded Discussion Forums
  • Validated practices library

See also[edit]


  • Adkins, Randy. "Airmen Tap Into Knowledge Now." AFCEA Signal Connections. 15 May 2008
  • Brook, Doug. "Triune Software’s Air Force Knowledge Now" Solution wins 2006 Knowledge Management Award". 2006. 19 Nov. 2007
  • Turnipseed, Cathy. "Transformation-U.S. Department of Defense." Air Force Center Improves Access to Knowledge. 2005. 19 Nov. 2007.
  • Morrow, Jim. "Air Force Link". Tons of Knowledge Resides in Air Force Web Site. 2003. 19 Nov. 2007
  • Lesser, Eric L. (2000). Knowledge and Communities. Massachusetts: Butterworth-Heinemann. ISBN 0-7506-7293-5.
  • English & Baker. (2006) Winning the Knowledge Transfer Race. New York: McGraw-Hill. ISBN 0-07-145794-1.
  • Davenport, Rex. “Does Knowledge Management Still Matter?” Training and Development Feb. 2005: 18–25.
  • Myers, Paul S. (1996). Knowledge Management and Organizational Design. Massachusetts: Butterworth-Heinemann. ISBN 0-7506-9749-0
  • Air Force Knowledge Now (AFKN) Team (2007). Knowledge Centric Operations. Dayton: Triune Group. 1–23
  • Davenport & Prusak. (2000). Working Knowledge. Massachusetts: Harvard Business School Press; 2Rev Ed edition ISBN 1-57851-301-4

Further reading[edit]

  • Collison, C. & Parcell, G. (2004). Learning to Fly: Practical Knowledge Management from Leading and Learning Organizations. Chichester, West Sussex: Capstone Publishing. ISBN 1-84112-509-1
  • Wenger, Etienne. (2002). Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning, and Identity. Cambridge, UK; New York, NY: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-66363-6
  • Wenger, Etienne. (2002). Cultivating Communities of Practice. Boston: Harvard Business School Press. ISBN 1-57851-330-8