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IBM Cambridge Research Center

  Technical Report: Searching for Expertise

Searching for Expertise

Technical Report #:08-02
Author(s): Kate Ehrlich, N.Sadat Shami


A Collaborative User Experience Technical Report: more about CUE...

It is well established that there is a need to find experts to get answers or advice. A variety of expertise locator tools have emerged to help locate the right person. But there is little systematic study on what people are really looking for when such systems are used and how external factors such as job role may shape that search. We conducted a study of 75 employees who were current users of an expertise locator system. An analysis of the reasons for their search revealed that people in client facing roles are primarily seeking to have a dialog with an expert, while others are just as likely to seek answers to technical questions. We also surveyed various tools for finding experts and found that corporate directories and personal networks were most often cited as alternatives to an expertise locator. We discuss the implications of these results for the design of tools for finding experts and expert knowledge.

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