When I see a demo of expertise location based on social network analysis, they show ratings or a graphical web that pinpoints certain high-value experts in the organization who many not be formally recognized as such. How nice, they say, that you can tell Suzi is the go-to person in the call center when you have a question about subject X. Or Phil is the #1 expert on subject Y. My question today: Do I want to be that person?
In a call center of 5,000 people, 50 pointing to one person as expert will strongly suggest expertise. But that leaves 4,950 more people that may now also look to that person as an expert. Now time management and culture come into play: will she get swamped? Does she want to be helpful in the first place? Is she disincented to help because she is rated on number of calls handled and a 5x increase in helping other reps will get her put on probation? Is she really an expert that you should shovel more queries to, or is she just good enough at acting like an expert to fool a few dozen people so far?
My point is that, like many other social software technologies that seem instantly applicable at first blush, there are many cultural and structural (organizational) issues just beneath the surface. One should either approach the technology with eyes open and a willingness to address the cultural and structural issues as well, or not approach it at all.
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