Enabling a More Agile Intelligence Enterprise

Much has been said over the past decade regarding the concept of agility as it can be applied to complex public and private organizations or enterprises of many types in the increasingly chaotic environments within which they must operate to achieve their visionary objectives. Recently the concept of agility has been applied to the national security enterprise, particularly its intelligence segment. Though the vision of a more agile intelligence enterprise has been generally accepted, little definition of how the vision can be realized. Recognizing that vision without action usually is fantasy, more definition is needed regarding the manner in which the Defense Department and Intelligence Community can evolve a more agile intelligence enterprise in the coming decade. Some basic components of such an enterprise come to mind. I propose them for open discussion to expedite a fully understood and accepted concept that can stimulate planning towards its rapid implementation.

An agile intelligence enterprise must be a well managed and organized one that dynamically changes its form in an adaptive manner to respond to the challenges of its environment. It must operate across horizontal planes to provide information, expertise and supporting services unconstrained by vertical structures in place which can hinder that objective. Though these vertical structures may be necessary to manage resources, they must not be allowed to interfere with dynamic interaction among enterprise component entities. Each component must interact with those of others to exploit common information infrastructure and information processing services, in accordance with established enterprise-wide policies, doctrine, and procedures supporting a common overall operational concept.

Before the Intelligence Community can achieve the agility needed to address the chaotic international environment and myriad challenges of the 21st Century, its components must universally adopt the requirement to voluntarily and pro-actively work together as an enterprise. A major first step to enabling such an enterprise is to adopt a common operational concept with associated common doctrine, policies, procedures and clear understanding of organizational relationships among enterprise components. Only then can investments of scarce resources be justified to provide management of intelligence information as an enterprise.

Investments should be based upon a common orientation framework of systems and services managed in a dynamic environment to enable the agility envisioned by that operational concept. Such a framework must include not only a common adaptive distributed (virtual) work environment spanning the enterprise, but core professional capabilities that span the disciplines involved in intelligence functions. This necessitates a comprehensive enterprise-wide professional training and education program to provide the core capabilities needed to perform the functions envisioned by the operational concept with the information tools and infrastructure they are to be provided. The latter must be integrated in a consistent manner across a set of common enterprise components to provide the essential core capabilities consistently and reliably. These must include the following, built around a consistent security management infrastructure, which is based upon common security policies and procedures.

- A common high capacity, multimedia and multiple security level telecommunications infrastructure

- A set of collaborative analytical and production tools, including distributed directory services in a common operating environment

- A set of standard distributed and dynamically manageable hierarchical multi-media information repositories, encompassing a shared data environment

However, besides a common telecommunications infrastructure and operating environment and shared data environment, as is graphically described by the figure, a more comprehensive set of capabilities must be consistently integrated across all Community components to enable and expedite evolution to a more agile intelligence enterprise in the 21st Century.

An adaptive distributed (virtual) workspace is necessary to enable the synergy and leverage obtainable from multiple disciplines and perspectives continuously interacting from multiple geographical locations to address myriad and unending needs of intelligence consumers using common telecommunications infrastructure, information processing tools and multimedia data repositories.

Security management requirements are a major cost-driver for essential supporting information systems and services. Therefore, a major investment in an enterprise-wide security management infrastructure (SMI) is investment. An adaptive SMI, responsive to well defined policies establishing rules of classification levels and need-to-know criteria must be agreed to, installed and maintained consistently across the enterprise. This necessitates a universal method of "tagging" information elements, as well as people and machines, in order that the information may be linked to the people and machines that will produce the knowledge needed by intelligence consumers. Therefore, consistent (inter-organization/discipline/function/domain) security policies and procedures must be put in place to guide the application of that SMI and enable adaptive processes by which maximum sharing of information and information about information can be achieved. These cannot become oppressive and burdensome, security policies and the supporting SMI must be streamlined to the maximum extent, with minimal categories of separation and services. Knowledge of information and its custodian and location is needed, where possible, even if the prospective user is not cleared for the information itself. This enables negotiation to establish need-to-know and other attributes which may lead to sharing some information that may not otherwise have been releasable.

Directory services integrated with automated security certification tools are essential to the enterprise SMI. Directory services are required to enable knowledge across the enterprise of information, services, expertise and other capabilities available to the entire enterprise. Directories of producers, users and related information repositories enable their rapid identification and inter-connection. Varying sets of COIs may become appropriate to particular needs, projects, activities or situations. Emerging X.500 and LDAP standard directories may be adaptable in a manner enabling dynamic user and producer node communities of interest (COI) to be (virtually) linked to respond rapidly to changing requirements. Services can also be instituted to provide memory mapping of such relationships, including expertise and other attributes and resources applicable to specific disciplines and functions.

The intelligence information collection management process in a more agile intelligence enterprise must include maximum communication of intelligence information requirements to enable knowledge of the widest possible range of potential information providers to best exploit potential information sources. A more agile intelligence enterprise must also be able to apply the best possible information, talent and capabilities to an emerging situation, regardless of their physical location, organizational relationship or other domain. As already noted, directories across the enterprise must enable rapid identification and dynamic access to data/information, knowledgeable people, offices and machines.

Collaboration among intelligence information users and providers enables optimal services, but requires appropriate supporting information infrastructure, automated information processing tools, multimedia information repositories and a guiding concept of operations with supporting doctrine, policies, procedures and organizational relationships to enable that collaboration across a distributed (virtual) workspace.

Information at all hierarchical levels must be known to exist and be accessible to those needing it, as end products or a raw material for tailored multimedia products. Information collection services and repositories as well as tools and expertise to apply them in producing knowledge products needed must be dynamically linked and configurable in (virtual) COI sub-networks enable the focusing of particularly important information, talent and other related capabilities at locations distributed geographically and across organizations. Sharing of these valuable resources is enabled through dynamic re-alignment of relationships upon completion of a project or activity and by inter-connection to multiple COIs, where applicable.. These "virtual sub-networks" can be activated across an enterprise "INTRANET" which transcends "stove pipe" functional organizations and dedicated service mechanisms.

Information about information and its relationship to other information and usage is needed to enable learning. Many facts or statistics must be known to continuously improve the management of information and related resources, including improving the availability of tools to best exploit information in all its forms and applications to provide knowledge products needed by intelligence consumers. Multidimensional arrays of information about information, its use, its relationship to other information and requirements for information must be propagated and continuously updated to enable a more agile intelligence enterprise. Besides the use of directories to dynamically identify linkages, standardized extended markup language (XML) information element formats can be used to identify linkages within the data or information elements itself. Use of the XML standard for publishing once to support multiple applications may be useful to enable both "atomic" raw information/data elements and "finished" multimedia electronic intelligence products in common information repositories available and known to the intelligence producers and users across the enterprise. The common data/information environment of the agile intelligence enterprise must be based upon a common data model that enables integrated electronically accessible products using information in many formats. (I.e. HTML, SGML, VRML, RDBMS, etc....) This is consistent with progress being made in the Defense Department to establish a Shared Data Environment (SHADE) across the entire Defense Information Infrastructure (DII).


In planning for a more agile intelligence enterprise, attention is needed to determine the appropriate mix and level of management oversight and review. Minimal intrusion in the adaptive streamlining of processes is essential, with management constrained primarily to monitoring and enabling appropriate dynamic distribution of resources across the enterprise, with least interruption to services and workflow to users.

Implementation of such a paradigm requires consistent well understood and mutually acceptable, but adaptive, organizational relationships.

A corps of intelligence professionals across all disciplines and functions with the core competencies needed to do job is also needed. Generally, a more agile intelligence enterprise is built around a set of information management services linking information and people and machines trained or programmed to apply that information as knowledge. This requires that the information be made known to people with the appropriate training, education and experience to apply it effectively and efficiently to produce knowledge.

Incentives must be applied to motivate these professionals to take necessary risks to innovatively apply their skills and the capabilities of the information systems made available to them. Therefore, to continuously improve itself and adapt to a chaotic environment, a more agile intelligence enterprise must establish incentives to increased efforts and exposure to risk, which (through innovative measures) can discover new capabilities and opportunities to synergistically improve the use of available resources.

Finally, a more agile intelligence enterprise must be a learning enterprise which constantly identifies its weaknesses, shortfalls and redundancies, making compensatory adjustments to improve itself, based on experience, thereby continuously streamlining its effective mobilization of resources to focus its capabilities most efficiently. Knowledge-based hypertext and other automated hypermedia linkages among users, producers and multimedia information in shared repositories must be enabled to facilitate optimal exploitation, with least overhead and delay, of all enterprise resources and capabilities. The linkages, must like synapses of biological organisms, must continuously and dynamically update themselves, as do learning organisms.



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