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Technology evangelists going mad: “Expertise Management”

Warning!  Anti techno-evangelist rant coming…

It has been a while since my last blog, as some of you might know we have been launching the new company, K3-Cubed Limited ( We are also working on a new KM self analysis tool for organisations and writing a book, “Getting to grips with KM”, being published by Ark later this month.

What brought me back to the blogsphere? A ridiculous blog article posted on the Forbes website, “Shifting The Imperative From Knowledge Management To Expertise Management” ( ). Is this author serious?

Technology evangelists have done their best to sow seeds of dissatisfaction across the vista of KM. Not satisfied with this, like an aggressive contagion, they are now after new pastures to conquer. This particular blogger pays homage to the role of HR and leadership in KM

“The success of many business projects and programs lies not just in knowledge of project management techniques, but in its execution and the leadership behind it. They are not independent of the people behind them. Similarly, many successful practices emerge out of the unique perspectives, relationships, and interaction history and eminence of the leader in the field, and not just the application of knowledge and technique.”

but he seduces to deceive…

“However, changes in technology is taking this beyond the closed doors and locked databases of what HR understands about any individual, into the open field of social business.”

Interesting, unless I am misunderstanding this, the author is stating that technology is moving beyond the understanding of HR – seems to me that technologists are once again ‘telling’ us what we need and how we need to do things. When will they get the message that the technology has to fit the ‘need’. The need is dictated by the person interfacing with the technology and not the other way around. The author then reveals his true techno-evangelist colours.

“Think about it, perspectives, relationships, and interaction history are core elements of individuals and characteristics of social business. Perspectives are being more tied to distinctly identified people—think blogging, microblogging or any kind of contribution in online social environments. Relationships are becoming more apparent—think external business relationship sites like LinkedIn or, or within your organization with Jive Software, SocialText, or IBM Lotus Connections. “

Knowledge-centric organisations transact in a knowledge economy – fact! The core of the knowledge economy is dynamic capacity, fueled by creativity, produced by people – fact! Technology is an enabler, a means to an end. It is not the end in itself. Technology cannot deliver a knowledge solution, so what does the techno-evangelist do, attempt to convince us that it can deliver expertise instead!

It wouldn’t be so bad if this was original thought, but even here the author falls short. Expertise Management is old news, see Dr. Yogesh Malhotra’s Interview with the CIO Insight Magazine, July 2004 ( In her interview emphasises what we at the sharp end of the knowledge business already know:

“KM in the United States, particularly the breed of KM sold as ‘silver bullets’ by the IT vendors and analysts has failed to live up to its promise.”

There is no point me trying to rehash words that are most powerful presented through the original text.

“Expertise management IT solutions seem to be more of a fad rather than a sustainable KM phenomena”

What has changed over the last seven years to alter this position? How about we try and solve the problem at hand and get KM working more effectively?  But on the other hand, isn’t that what techno-evangelists do – if it doesn’t work repackage it, sex it up and sell it to gullible companies hooked on fads!

We are in a time of global austerity, the last thing we need is another fad sucking finance away from projects that can make a real difference.  Organisations need real solutions that work!

So, how about this for an idea… Leave KM to us socio-technologist evangelists and we’ll come and seek the advice of techno-evangelists when we need you.  You’ll do less damage that way.

And, one other thing, stay in the shadows until you learn that it is and always will be about people!

Rant over….

3 comments on “Technology evangelists going mad: “Expertise Management”

  1. Pingback: Technology evangelists going mad: «Expertise Management (via Theknowledgecore’s Blog) « Дмитрий N Медведев

  2. Roan Yong
    March 6, 2011


    I think you are missing out Rawn Shah’s point. His article is convoluted. But from what I read, I think he is trying to say: Instead of managing knowledge directly, we should facilitate the conversations among people with the help of technology. People want to come forward because they want to be known as expert. And technology can help to draw a list of expertise that people have. Technology can keep track of who says what, who gives quality ideas, and/or who solves problem.

    If my interpretation of his article is correct, then I’m inclined to agree with Rawn.

    Don’t forget to visit my blog: Thanks!

  3. theknowledgecore
    March 6, 2011

    Thank you, Roan…

    I can see where you are coming from and maybe I am reading too much into what he is saying…?

    It just seems to me that KM technology advocates are constantly attempting to renegotiate the field in an attempt to ‘push’ technology… this was my reason for pointing to the 2004 article. There is a push to get people to use technology instead of examining what it is that people need to bring advantage for the organisation.

    Also, the other point I was trying to make is that ‘expertise management’ is old news that died a death the first time around, so why is it being brought out of the closet again? For me, there has been mass dissatisfaction in technology based KM solutions and so now there is a need to find pastures new for their old ideas.

    I don’t mean to be controversial, but too many techno-centric KM advocates lull us into a false sense of security with socio-technological platitudes only to reveal their true colours in their intended outcomes.

    Just my opinion though… and thank you for taking the time to respond, it’s good to get a counter perspective!

So, what do you think?

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This entry was posted on March 4, 2011 by in Uncategorized.
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