Finding expertise with the Knowledge Network

The Knowledge Network tool is a cool add on for MOSS 2007. The Microsoft Search vision is all about empowering people to find the information and expertise they need to get their job done. The Knowledge Network extends the search functionality of MOSS 2007 with expertise finder functionality.
It helps users collaborate more effectively by automating the discovery and sharing of undocumented knowledge and relationships.

The Knowledge Network is based on three core beliefs:
1. Most information is undocumented, studies reveal that only 20% of knowledge within an organization is documented. The rest of it is individual knowledge that is stored in people's minds.
2. It’s difficult to connect to the right person. Finding the right person often involves a referral by an intermediary.
3. “Weak ties” deliver significant value. People in our inner circle know basically the same people and the same things that we know, but people in their extended circle, and people around that have different knowledge and ideas.

In order to determine someone's expertise a client side tool will extract keywords by scanning email messages and will determine contacts from outlook and instant messaging tools. A user can check what the tool found and decide what can be published to the server and what can not. If the user agrees the profile will be published to the server.

The data found by the Knowledge Network can be found on three extra tabs that will be added in the My Site. The tabs are My Colleagues, My External Contacts and My Keywords. Information found by the Knowledge Network will also be indexed by the SharePoint search and can be found by using the page behind an extra tab named External People in the search center.

Tonight Dirk Zekveld and I gave a presentation about the Knowledge Network for the DIWUG. Everyone present was very enthusiastic about the possibilities of the Knowledge Network and almost everyone would either want to install it in their own company or for one or more customers. 

One of the questions that was asked was about the privacy model, which is very well taken care of. No information will leave a user's computer without the user's explicit approval. 

Another question that keeps popping up, with our customers as well as the people present tonight is the one about official releases. Right now the RC 0 can be downloaded. This is a technical preview, so it can be installed free of charge, but Microsoft will give no technical support on it. There won't be an official release anytime soon, since the final release of the Knowledge Network will be part of, or an add on to the next Office release.

If you want to download the Knowledge Network and start using it you can do so here. We have done so at Macaw and we will also start a Knowledge Network pilot for one of our customers on a large scale world wide intranet. I'll keep you posted on the feedback we get on that one.

The last question that I get quite often is when support for other languages than English will be integrated in the Knowledge Network. The answer is that I don't know..there definitely will be support for other languages eventually.

For more information about the Knowledge Network take a look at the Knowledge Network team blog.