DEMO '11: Whodini tracks down your company's in-house experts

Whodini doesn't want you to waste an entire day emailing coworkers looking for the one guy in your company who knows the ins and outs of SIP trunks.

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Instead they want you to type "SIP trunks" into its database of profiles to find the exact person in your company who can best help you out. Whodini's software combs over company emails and calendar entries for frequently-used terms that it then attaches to a worker's official profile. People within the company who are looking for someone with a certain type of knowledge can then search Whodini to see which employees have what areas of expertise attached to their profiles. Whodini director of business development Bjorn Stromsness says the company was the brainchild of COO and cofounder Ani Chaudhuri, who got the idea while working as the director of Web Services Initiatives at HP.

"While he was working at a large company he was given an assignment to build an app store and he looked around and said 'Someone knows more about this than I do,'" explains Stromsness. "But how do you find them in a company this large?"

One major red flag with any program such as Whodini, of course, is privacy. Anytime you have an algorithm that's combing over work emails and calendar appointments for frequently-used phrases you're going to make people at your firm nervous. After all, your top networking engineer probably doesn't want the rest of the company to know that he's also the firm's foremost expert in fantasy football strategy in addition to VoIP troubleshooting.

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This is why Whodini has workers explicitly approve every single word or phrase that's attached to their profile. Every time a new word appears enough times to make it onto your page, workers will get an email asking them if they want it added to their page. So there's no way for the company to know about your fantasy football prowess unless you explicitly authorize it. And Stromsness says the program will send you new terms to approve or reject about once a week so you won't be overloaded with information on how your profile is changing minute-by-minute.

Stromsness says the program is a more efficient way of updating your résumé as well because it keeps up with what you're doing on a week-by-week basis so your expertise will always be up-to-date. And the program can add around 50 or so terms to your profile so you won't be pegged as one-dimensional and can show off all of what you know.

"As your work changes and as new terms show up in conversations, those new terms would be presented to you to approve," Stromsness says. "Over time there will be more terms added and it will reflect your work and expertise."

Whodini began Alpha testing with three small businesses this week and Stromsness says the company is slated to begin beta deployments with larger companies over the next month, with plans to have the program available for general use in the first quarter of 2012.

Read more about software in Network World's Software section.

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