The demand for expertise is price elastic too!

By: Pritha Singh, 17/09/2013

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While 'expertise' may be one of the most abused words in professional parlance, it is also true that a great many of us need to and have to rely on the knowledge of experts during the course of our personal as well as professional lives. We recently conducted a survey amongst professionals across a wide spectrum of companies in various industries to delve deeper into how exactly expertise and subject matter experts are leveraged by corporate India. The results were a mix of intuitive and counter-intuitive, and definitely very interesting.

Our survey revealed, to our great surprise, that every single one of our respondents had leveraged expert help on call as part of their profession. Expertise, and its use, is quite rightfully, omnipresent. What is more interesting is to note that the overwhelming majority - 92% of respondents - had leveraged their own or their company's network to get to these experts. Less than half (42%) had availed of paid services to identify experts. Part of this is driven by lack of alternatives that can systematically help identify experts, as well as lack of awareness of existing options, and another part is driven by costs, as we would later detail.

 

Not only is use of expertise widespread, but it is also frequent. Almost half (47%) of the respondents had done more than 10 expert calls in the past year. More than two-thirds (70%) had done this more than 5 times. However, the source of expertise, as expected, remains heavily biased towards the developed world. Two-thirds of the respondents claimed that they had only leveraged foreign experts.

While use of expertise may happen across industries and functions, there are some that seem to actively seek it more than others. Healthcare, Education & training, Technology and Banking are the major sectors where expert conversations are most sought after as per our findings. Within functions, Strategy & development, Marketing and Information technology remain the heaviest needs.

One of the crucial elements of using expertise is price. Our survey revealed that more than 20% respondents have paid $500 and above for an hour of expert conversations, more than 40% have paid above $200. However, when asked what people would be willing to pay going forward, less than 15% said they would avail of expert-on-call services if priced over $500 an hour, but majority users would use it if priced lower than that, suggesting some price elasticity here too!

As the world moves towards greater and greater value being ascribed to knowledge, it will be interesting to see how we each leverage our expertise as also seek it in others.

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