Last week Jack Vinson (I am glad, by the way, to see he is back weblogging again after his vacation) shared one of the most comprehensive weblog posts that I have read in a long while around the always exciting topic of expertise location where he is actually shifting away from the traditional way expertise locators have always been considered: i.e. just tools. Indeed, Jack has written up an impressive weblog post on the subject with some incredible quotes on what expertise location should all be about. He is also referencing some other folks who have been talking about the same topic, sharing as well some interesting insights, such as Harold Jarche, Jay Cross, Dennis McDonald, Shawn Callahan, Ingo Forstenlechner, amongst others. I am also included in his references from a couple of weblog posts I shared on this very same subject not long ago and which you can read some more about here and over here.
As I said, he has put together such an impressive weblog post around this topic of expertise location that has got me thinking quite a bit with all sorts of ideas that I have decided to expand further on a number of different weblog posts. As I get along I will get going and share with you all some of those insights but for the time being I just wanted to comment on one of those ideas that has been crossing my mind all along after reading Jack’s weblog post. It looks like expertise locators have no longer got anything to do with just focusing on the tools, nor the technology. It looks like after reading Jack’s thoughts and commenting on a few other folks’ thoughts it goes well beyond that into a realm that I have been talking about over here several times. Yes, on the people.
I very much agree with what Jack mentions that searching for experts is increasingly starting to happen inside people’s networks, whether they are physical or virtual networks in such a way that whenever a knowledge worker has got a question the first thing that person is going to do to have his / her question answered is check with someone, an expert, according to him / her, that he / she knows would be able to help out finding an answer. Notice that I am talking about finding an answer and not giving an answer as I think that the main reason for that happening is because people not only want to get the answer they also want to build a relationship with that expert so that through nurturing and maintaining those relationships they themselves could become experts in those subjects at some point in time.
I feel that is where the whole power of expertise locators reside, not so much on finding the experts but actually on engaging and interacting with them so that you, too, could become one at some point in time and somehow you can free up the experts to deal with more complicated problems. That way, and without you not knowing it per se ahead of time, you would find out that you will shortly begin to have that pool of experts within an organisation that would be available to help find answers, and because that pool of experts is based as well on those physical or virtual relationships you know that they would be there for some time. Why? Because of one key fundamental aspect that surfaces in every seeker / expert relationship: Trust. Trust that matters to the seeker for help and to the expert who is helping out finding those answers.
This is why as I was reading through Jack’s weblog post it kind of reminded me as well about another weblog post that I created not so long ago around the subject of How Do You Trust the Experts? Because whether we like it or not, at the end of the day, the key successful and fundamental factor for any expertise location tool to succeed is not on having a pool of experts available to help answer questions but more to have a pool of experts that seekers would trust because they are part of their personal physical / virtual networks and could help them find those answers more in a collaborative way than in a traditional Q&A fashion. And this is exactly the role that social software has been playing all along and which will make it succeed in the business world. Pretty much like it has been doing already quite successfully for some time now in the consumer market.