The problem of finding people with expertise

We’re currently working, as part of a consortium, on a proposal for a project to make finding people with expertise easier. Finding expertise inside and outside (i.e. people you might want to hire) an organisation is a huge and interesting challenge.

Let me illustrate. Nowadays, information on a person’s expertise isn’t in just one place. Typically, it’s distributed in different places across the Internet:

– Different versions of their CV may be posted on job boards and portals. What’s more, each version of the CV might emphasise different aspects of their expertise and experience, and some versions could be out of date.
– Their personal Web site may contain detailed descriptions of current work and research interests.
– Their publications and presentations may be published on-line.
– Social networks may define their relationships within a professional, social, special interest or research community.
– Contributions to sites such as Blogs, online forums and mailing lists may mark them as a a person actively engaged in the latest developments in their discipline.

It’s equally as bad within an organisation. Indeed, many organisations still rely on “word of mouth” systems to find internal experts.

The problem of searching for and describing people with expertise is likely to grow in the future.

The problem is hard to solve:

– Experience and capability has many sides.
– You need to describe the skill areas and topics in a way that works internationally.
– Valuable information about expertise is often hidden in social interactions (such as participation in online communities).

The proposed solution looks good: people-focused, scaleable and conforming to open standards.

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