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CHIPS Articles: The Next Five Years Have Already Begun... Managing Change through NMCI

The Next Five Years Have Already Begun... Managing Change through NMCI
By Capt. Steve Briganti - May 1, 2001
What I'm writing about has been on your mind for quite a while now - why couldn't "they" just have left well enough alone? Maybe you're thinking, "We just got "wired" with the Navy Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI) the other day...OK, let's turn on my new NMCI "White Seat." The screen hums to life just like my old computer...yup, same programs...e-mail... zip! There it where's the NMCI inside?

The answer is simple - it's there, but you can't see it - not yet.

We already live in an increasingly and perpetually changing world, in some respects wrought by an explosion of 1s and 0s racing along wires. While leading U.S. companies are entering "Act II" of the new economy, NMCI will be the foundation on which the Department of the Navy (DON) could very well leap out of the "snail mail" age right alongside the "haves" side of the "Digital Divide." The magnitude of how quickly the world is "going digital" is staggering. Here are but a few indicators taken from the Industry Standard magazine, March 26, 2001, "The Five-Year Forecast," by David Lake and Information Week magazine, March 26, 2001, "Global Opportunities," by Mary E. Thyfault.

•U.S. companies spent $26 billion on intranets in 1999. Total intranet spending is expected to exceed $83 billion in 2003 - and that's just the intranet side.
•In 2000, the U.S. sent 9.7 billion e-mails per day. By 2005, the number will jump to 34.6 billion e-mails per day.
•In 2000, the world's online population was 361.1 million of a 6.1 billion-world population. An astonishing 88 percent of users live in industrialized countries representing only 15 percent of the world population. By 2004, 741.6 million people out of a global population of 6.5 billion will be online.
•While business-to-business (B2B) commerce online accounted for $336 billion in 2000 - this figure will grow to $46.3 trillion by 2005.
•Currently 80 percent of the world population has never made a telephone call but, in 2000, there were 110 million wireless users. By 2005, there will 266.4 million wireless users.

Why all the statistical interest?

First, we need to comprehend the simple promise of inter-connection through the intranet-it fundamentally offers rapid access to information. Since we as a nation have become network and communications centric, it is only natural that the next step would be to exploit the power of these tools. It is becoming more apparent the Internet-and soon the intranet-will become the central metaphor of both our professional and personal lives.

Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, we need to inter-connect out of necessity. Our Naval strategy calls for assured access and knowledge superiority (KS). We are just beginning to understand the full implications of KS, but we know already, from Fleet Battle Experiments to contingency operations, that KS can offer us better and faster decision-making capabilities to take more effective and efficient actions. It is the support to the warfighter-doing things more effectively and efficiently-that compels the DON to invest in NMCI.

"So what," you might ask? "We were wired years ago."

Indeed we were.

Through important operational IT initiatives like IT-21 and "Collaboration at Sea," as well as "Solution Provider" and Web-enabling initiatives, our forces have more robust access to information than ever before.

Nevertheless, we DON organizations may have "wired" years ago, but at monumental cost for replicated research, procurement, support and configuration management; a fragmented infrastructure; unacceptable security risk; and poor interoperability. By opting for NMCI, underwritten by service level agreements (SLAs) that "we" changes from a singular context to "we" at the Service and DON enterprise level. Soon, about 200 disparate and sometimes incompatible networks will be able to operate as one, wit

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