Monday, 2 November 2009

Who knows what?

Who knows what is the title of an interesting article from the Wall Street Journal. In it the author describes how in "big companies" in-house experts who might have specialised skills and knowledge will exist but people in the same office might not know they exist!

The authors goes on to identify two problems with some of the systems that are designed to manage "expertise"...there are gaping holes in this approach. For starters, big companies tend to be dynamic organizations, in a constant state of flux, and few commit the resources necessary to constantly review and update the credentials of often rapidly changing rolls of experts. Second, users of these systems need more than a list of who knows what among employees. They also need to gauge the experts' "softer" qualities, such as trustworthiness, communication skills and willingness to help. It isn't easy for a centrally managed database to offer opinions in these areas without crossing delicate political and cultural boundaries"

The author goes on to describe how social-computing or social media tools might help with some of the gaps in the current approaches to managing this content. The two tools that the authors discuss in more details are Blogs and wikis, although they also mention Social networks and tagging as a source of expert information.

I believe blogs are an excellent way to identify experts, especially if someone is dedicating their own time to create and manage content on a blog. Wikis are also another excellent way to identify experts and potentially where there might be "holes" in a teams areas of expertise which require filling, either by developing/training an individual or asking another team member to provide the expertise.

Overall this is a really interesting article, which is well worth reading.

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