Thought for the day:What makes someone a world authority?

Outsourcing and communications expert Martyn Hart looks at a hot issue of the day.I recently found myself at a loss during an...

Outsourcing and communications expert Martyn Hart looks at a hot issue of the day.I recently found myself at a loss during an event last month when one of my guests asked if I knew of a certain individual who just happened to be a "world authority" on outsourcing.

I was stumped. As chairman of the National Outsourcing Association, clearly my guest felt I should know him. After all, he was a "world authority".

Determined to redress my obvious lack of knowledge, I wrote down the name of this world authority and went to find him on the Internet. And he was there, on a Web site that was dedicated to outsourcing.

The site looked pretty impressive, so how come, given all the years I've been in the outsourcing business, I hadn't heard of him? Further investigation was needed.

On closer investigation the Web site revealed a couple of truly ancient papers covering subjects such as "Application Service Providers in Europe" and "Outsourcing during Y2K".

Fair enough, I thought, the site has an archive of papers, which makes it quite useful for anyone wanting an in-depth knowledge of outsourcing.

But wait a second, what about this so-called world-renowned expert? Apparently he is a self-confessed world authority. It's all there, in black and white, on his Web site.

Reading on, I find that the site, which appeared to be an outsourcing portal, was run by a consultancy. It's a sales site for the consultancy and, sure enough, our world authority on outsourcing is one of its consultants. What a coincidence.

Really, why do people bother? Are consultancies so arrogant that they think their clients won't see through this? If they wanted to make contributions to our industry, why not do it through an industry body? You can only conclude that they have nothing really to offer and they treat their clients with disdain.

Clearly, readers of this column see that there are certain key phrases that can help us detect the questionable, and "world authority" is one of them.

As an aside, if you type the phrase into the Google search engine, you get 2.8 million hits. It seems we are overrun with them.

What is your view?
Would you put your faith in a self-proclaimed "world authority"? Tell us in an e-mail >> reserves the right to edit and publish answers on the Web site. Please state if your answer is not for publication.

Martyn Hart is chairman of the National Outsourcing Association and practice director at Mantix , a consultancy that delivers value from complex programmes.

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