Can 28 nations collaborate online?

As NATO seeks a "cultural shift," a new intranet system will serve up to 10,000 would-be collaborators.

Wikipedia image: NATO's official flag.

In NATO, the United States coordinates with 27 other member nations. A new intranet project aims to improve collaboration for as many as 10,000 users.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is undergoing a “cultural shift” toward using IT that encourages intra-organization collaboration, says Rickard Hansson, whose Swedish software firm just won a NATO contract.

The 28-member collective security organization will deploy Incentive Corp.’s intranet software over three years, reaching up to 10,000 employees, the firm said in announcing the deal.

“What we’ve done is simply to focus on creating a distributed software. That means it’s your own requirements that decide security,” Hansson, Incentive’s chief executive and founder, said in an interview.

The software includes wikis, blogs and apps that can be hosted behind a firewall or in the cloud. It allows employees across an organization to share their work and compile project ideas. The product is “off the shelf,” Hansson said – a common boast in the software industry to describe a product’s instant applicability, and a trait that he said suits NATO well.

The security organization has an ambitious timeline for rolling out the software to top officials within months. According to Hansson, the software doesn’t require much training to use and NATO has yet to request customized features, which could speed deployment.

Another reason NATO chose Incentive’s software, according to a company spokeswoman, is the firm’s plans to support WebRTC, an inchoate open-source API standard that facilitates videoconferencing, instant messaging and other real-time communications.

Incentive, which has offices in Malmo, Sweden, and Los Angeles, has been mostly focused on small-to-medium sized business, but its work with NATO could mark a shift to bigger public-sector clients, Hansson said.

The firm is banking on the notion that strict security requirements and a platform for sharing information across a large organization are compatible. The firm stores an organization’s data in a private cloud that even Incentive employees can’t access. That may have been what persuaded NATO to choose the software and, Hansson hopes, what prompts other government organizations to follow suit.

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