ARCHIVED: Completed project: IM an Expert

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Primary UITS contact: Joe Potchanant

Completed: October 18, 2012

Description: IM an Expert is a service that connects users with other members of the Indiana University community for real-time answers to questions on any topic. It is available to IU students, faculty, and staff statewide, and works on any platform. To participate, users will need the UniCom instant messaging software (Lync for Windows, Communicator for Mac, or Pidgin for Linux), and a profile describing their interests, hobbies, and areas of expertise.

When someone asks a question, IM an Expert searches user profiles for related keywords, and then sends IM alerts to the most likely experts. The first person to respond enters the chat session. At the end, the asker has the option to rate the answer. The service uses these ratings to develop a list of best-qualified responders for future questions.

Outcome: The first phase was completed September 21, 2011, with the advertisement of the new service to the IU community via a news article and podcast in the Monitor.

The next phase will include:

  • Integrating AskIU into the service
  • Integrating Ask a Librarian into the service
  • Advertising the mobile apps that can use the service
  • Adding CAS authentication to the imanexpert website
  • Improving the service where possible

Milestones and status:

  • August 2011: IM a Expert website and service running
  • September 2011:
    • IU Knowledge Base document created explaining the service, and how to sign up; support structure in place, in which UITS Support Center will handle questions from users
    • UITS staff and IU computing support professionals contacted via email to help test the service
    • UITS Monitor article and podcast created and distributed advertising the service to the rest of the IU community
  • October 2011:
    • Service added to the Spotlight section of
    • Marketing of the service via on-campus plasma displays starts
    • AskIU added as a member of the service
  • May 2012: Client Support, led by IT Community Partners, is assessing the viability of this service given that Microsoft is under no obligation to provide updates to this demonstration code (IM an Expert) as the Lync product matures. Additionally, although 200 users signed up after an initial email blast, there have been no conversation nor questions since February 2012. The handful of questions asked prior to that date received no responses.

    This assessment will include exploration of potential niche markets that might benefit from a smaller pilot and enable us to evaluate the viability of this service going forward. Additionally, ITCP will investigate if and how Microsoft is using this product for internal crowd-sourced support within the organization and also Microsoft's current posture on this add-on feature to Lync.

  • September 2012: Recently, IU's Student Association, when asked about this Lync-driven service, felt that students would not find it useful.

    However, as the SharePoint User Community grows and becomes more diverse in its practice, there is some speculation that these more granular, functionally defined user communities may use this tool. As the need for self-supporting SharePoint communities of staff matures, we will continue to assess if this tool is good fit.

Comment process: Email Joe Potchanant.

Benefits: The service offers real-time answers to questions on any topic.

Project team:

  • Joe Potchanant (project lead)
  • Chuck Aikman
  • Todd Herring
  • Duane Schau
  • Sue Workman

Issues: You must use an instant messaging client that works with IU's Microsoft Lync server.

Primary client: All IU students, faculty, and staff

This is document bbhm in the Knowledge Base.
Last modified on 2018-01-18 17:57:04.

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