New forums generate plenty of feedback to AKO

New forums generate plenty of feedback to AKO

When the Army Knowledge Online portal added a forum earlier this month for soldiers to post reviews on how effectively their equipment worked in the field, the amount of user feedback skyrocketed.

In July, only 33 users visited the Project Manager Soldier Equipment community page on the AKO portal. But within days of posting the Soldier Equipment forum, the portal received 973 visitors in the threaded discussions of equipment successes and failures, said Frans Van der Lee, community page administrator at AKO.

Soldiers were asked for feedback on uniforms, body armor, thermal weapons sights, night vision devices, boots and the service's Rapid Fielding initiative, a program that lets unit commanders who are soon to go overseas purchase whatever commercial items they think their units need.

'We wanted to drive traffic to our community page and make soldiers aware of where their equipment comes from and that our product teams do care about them and want their feedback,' Van der Lee said in an Army release.

The feedback from the discussions will be shared with several product development teams, officials said.

Michael Beckley, co-founder and vice president of business development for Appian Corp. of Vienna, Va., said his company worked with the Army to increase the number of visitors to the site. The Army signed a contract with Appian last year to increase the scalability of AKO as well as the portal's capacity to handle more users simultaneously. AKO runs on Appian's Enterprise, which runs Appian Collaboration and Appian Portal.

AKO this summer also began running communities of practice user pilots, according to Army officials.

In the pilots, users test new features ranging from planning and collaboration software to disaster recovery applications, whiteboarding, and voice and video over IP tools.

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