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Aug 2007

Buy an Expert

The german newspaper "Spiegel" writes in Deutsche Manager fallen bei Finanzinvestoren durch (losly translate-able as "german managers having a hard time with their investors"):
"
Mit Praxiserfahrung meinen die Investoren jedoch nicht die Kenntnis der Branche, sondern ein generelles Verständnis der Abläufe in Unternehmen. Sie verstehen darunter auch nicht Expertenwissen, denn das, so argumentieren die Befragten, könne man im Markt 'billig einkaufen'."
("By practical knowledge the investors do not mean the knowledge of the field of the company but a general understanding of the operations within companies. Also they do not mean expertise, because that can be bought cheaply on the market")
Ignoring the fact that it is almost best not to believe anything written in the german press (speaking of this, where are the articles about companies moules in german ministeries?) this is still very interesting.
If I do not have expertise on the field of the company, how can I decide wether the cheap expert has sound knowledge of the field or wether he is just giving the impression that he has it?
It is difficult and time-consuming to gain expertise. If the expert is really cheap he simply can not be very good (or the market has gone insane). But the price alone is no good indicator either. A expensive fraudster will appear better than a expensive expert because he will gain more money and can put the saved work in better advertising.
Some examples:
Web-Designer: Since the web has gone mainstream, self called experts keep on telling that the consumers like hugh colourful websites full of flash. The reality is quite different: of all search engines only the most minimalistic Google prevailed. And thinking about auction websites, today there is only the in comparison more minimalistic left: Ebay.
Apple: Since Steve Jobs returned to the company the tide has changed and Apple gains more and more money. The company is known for the ease-of-use of their products and people in marketing all around the world are wondering how a product that has less features and a higher price can gain the highest market share in a consumer market. Obviously Jobs has the expertise to "buy" the best expert. Speaking of buy - the experts are not bought at Apple. They are contracted workers.