Navy hospital CIOs consult online

Coming together isn't easy when your colleagues are scattered from Iceland to Japan.

That was the challenge facing Navy hospital chief information officers. The CIOs met as a group just once a year but decided

to use collaboration software to rub elbows more often. The result is CIO Today, a community of practice that the Navy Medical Information Management Center built using software from eRoom

Technology Inc. The community of 80 CIOs went online in December 2001.

"They've collaborated more in eRoom in six months than in

10 years of annual conferences," said Lt. Mike Whitecar, who

coordinates e-business services for the center.

The CIOs heavily use eRoom's threaded discussions and also employ the product's document management feature to share items such as business plans and contracts, Whitecar said. A built-in search engine pulls in both documents and discussions. An auto-alert feature notifies users if someone has responded to a discussion posting.

Whitecar said the next step is working with eRoom's application program interface to integrate market research firm Gartner Inc.'s services. When completed, a Gartner page will exist within the Navy community, allowing a CIO to post a question to a Gartner analyst and receive a response.

Using eRoom, Whitecar said CIO Today was launched in a day. The Navy was able to use eRoom out of the box but customized CIO Today's presentation layer using eRoom tools.

The information technology staff has kept tabs on the CIO community since its launch. Whitecar reports that the community's site had 13,000 hits in February and 23,000 hits in April.

For Navy CIOs, clicking is proving the easier way to commingle.

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