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Information is Power: The Rise of the Expert Economy

Ammad Ahmad, Co-Founder and Managing Director at Atheneum, discusses the rise of the expert economy and how sharing knowledge is empowering businesses to make better-informed decisions.

Data is a fast-moving asset thanks to the rapid pace that industries are evolving, which means gaining access to the most up-to-date intelligence is increasingly challenging. Therefore, in order to obtain reliable insights, it’s most effective to speak directly to those on the front line, living it day-to-day.

This wisdom is extremely valuable to companies relying on the latest data and expertise in order to de-risk decisions in the fast-paced world of business. Those that have spent decades of their working lives in a particular field have the unique experience and knowledge that can now be monetised.

Improvements in technology and access to the internet has made it easier for organisations and researchers to find experts in specialist fields that may not be covered by traditional consulting.

For example, if a business was looking to launch a new product in a new international market, they would require specific intelligence of that market in order to identify various elements such as local legislation for development and supply, local knowledge of how that product is received by consumers, how to sustainably produce the product and so on. Considering the amount of expenditure required to launch a new product in a new market, the demand for intelligence to de-risk the business decision becomes greater.

With such a premium placed on knowledge, and more people working freelance within the gig economy than ever before, it is no surprise that an industry has grown around knowledge-sharing.

Expert networks can be described as a knowledge-based matchmaking business, connecting businesses and consultants with the reliable and most relevant expert knowledge on-demand.

Pioneering a Research-as-a-Service (RaaS) model, connecting businesses to the experts is just the first step. Atheneum’s technology-enabled service provides a number of opportunities for clients to optimise that access to intelligence to whatever suits their needs, from face-to-face workshops to expert-backed research reports and phone-based interactions.

While expert networks have been around since the late 90s, they have recently gained more traction, disrupting the future of work as market conditions change at an ever-faster pace. By their very nature, expert networks allow businesses to adapt quickly to changing conditions, be it tackling skills gaps or venturing into new areas of business.

Expert networks are efficient at providing relevant, raw intelligence, giving businesses access to several different industry experts within 24 – 48 hours. This quick access to expert insights helps to form an educated and informed opinion and filling a knowledge gap, as opposed to hiring new employees or contracting research firms, which may not always add to the variety of industry expertise needed to make the right decisions.

Additionally, expert networks open the opportunity for businesses to hire in external experts on an ad-hoc basis, whether it be for individual projects, such as our hypothetical product launch, or to work alongside an in-house team directly, upskilling them to close any knowledge gaps within the company.

Helping companies make better decisions through the diversity of opinion they’re exposed to within a very short amount of time, this flexibility of service is one of the key drivers for why professional firms engage with expert networks, bringing in knowledge on-demand when required without the need for long-term contracts.

Whilst expert networks can be engaged for smaller, more defined projects, their offering is well matched to management consultancies. Expert networks enjoy close relationships with management consultancies to provide faster insights, fed into wider business improvement programmes.

The expert economy sits firmly within the larger gig economy and will undoubtedly shape how businesses operate in the future. Currently valued at almost $5 billion, with estimations that this will grow exponentially over the next decade, more companies are beginning to see the value that expert networks can bring to their business. In a free market economy, businesses need to take any advantage they can get and, in a world where knowledge is power, can businesses really afford to ignore market intelligence?

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