Barracks Reports and ReturnsBy David Caligari November 9, 2021
The secret to success in barracks: act like in the field.
Transforming Information Management “will necessitate a move over time to a small number of standardised information and communications systems supporting enterprise-wide processes and a radically simplified application landscape through retiring legacy solutions and adopting enterprise master data.”
Defence First Principles Review, 2015, p. 48
The world’s most famous technology firms are built on simplicity and ease-of-use. Consider Apple, whose intuitive iPhone interface snatched up all the market share, forcing traditional players like Nokia and Blackberry into the economic wilderness. Or consider Google, which was developed in 1996 on the principle of providing users exactly what they need. Google’s initial value proposition was to provide the answers a user wanted insanely quickly. This was achieved through the use of just three elements on their homepage: a search bar, a search button and an “I’m feeling lucky” button. This intuitive design makes Google ‘sticky’ and reduces cognitive friction—users do not need to expend brainpower in finding out how to navigate the website, or decide which button to click. Stickiness is anything about a website that encourages a visitor to be comfortable when visiting. For soldiers in the barracks, a standard interface can be sticky by creating familiarity and ease-of-use that supports more efficient work.
Army must focus on simplifying our Information Communications Technology (ICT) to be sticky—as the civilian world is already doing. The tech ideas pioneered in Silicon Valley are rapidly spreading to the non-technology sector. In 2007, a Google employee joined the presidential campaign of then Senator Barack Obama. His job was to bring one of Google’s web practices to bear on the campaign’s bright-red DONATE button on the Obama website. Christian & Griffiths (2016). The theory was simple: to channel viewers to a site that had ‘DONATE’ written on the button or to a site that said ‘CONTRIBUTE’ to determine which choice prompted the highest donations. This process is called A/B testing—giving viewers two options to find the best choice. Through understanding the process Army can understand the importance of creating sticky platforms to support soldiers working with barracks ICT—that a smooth experience supports better productivity.
So how can Army apply this logic? The answer is simple. Army should set the conditions for our intranet platform to be like reports and returns. Army should create an environment where all the hierarchical levels look the same and can be navigated identically. Perfection would see users only being able to look at the site logo or site data to determine which site they are working within. It is only through this system that truly frictionless work can be achieved, and Army processes at home can work like they do in the field.