Being an expert requires continuous learning

December 4, 2023
The next time a solution or product vendor says they’re the expert you need, ask them what they’ve learned lately.

An expert is “a person who is expert or has gained skill from experience” or someone “regarded or consulted as an authority on account of special skill, training, or knowledge; a specialist” (thanks, Oxford English Dictionary!). We love the OED but suggest tweaking this definition and making it: “A person who has and continues to gain skills, training, knowledge, and experience on particular topics.”

Continual research, development, testing, fine-tuning—all motivated by a happy mix of commitments to present and future customers, plus pure curiosity—we at 3AG Systems are constantly learning about data analytics applications in manufacturing and mining. Such ongoing education is motivated by the fact that we know we’ll never know everything, not despite this fact; we aim for perfection anyway.

What does this mean in practice? It’s all in our people.

Our Head of Content has a Ph.D. in English language and literature from a reputable university. She’s been writing and editing her entire career, except when teaching university-level English courses in Canada or teaching EFL in South Korea. With a degree at this level, and these experiences, you can say she’s an expert.

Like everyone at 3AG, she knows that expertise is a dynamic, living state of mind that requires continual action. When she finished her last degree, she was most aware of all the language and literature-related things she had not yet studied. She checks the words of the day at both and OED online every day because she doesn’t know every word in the English language and never will; but there’s a lot of benefit—and fun!—in trying to get there.

We’re all still learning. 3AG’s VP of Product & Marketing is learning Japanese and reads science books for fun. One of our new data scientists is completing a Master’s in Applied Mathematics. Anytime any of us learns how to use a smartphone or Zoom or social media, or how to cook, learns a language, how to dance or play a musical instrument, how to take care of a puppy, or takes professional upskilling courses, we’re beginning on a path that may lead to developing other areas of expertise.

Let’s consider this from another angle. If we didn’t know this before the pandemic, we do now: Medical science—arguably the most important area of study for everyone, everywhere—isn’t done yet. In early 2020, everyone thought Covid-19 was just like the flu and nothing much to worry about. We know now that a lack of knowledge helped the virus spread around the world.  

First understood only as a lung issue, we now know that it can affect literally every part of the body, from skin to brain to heart; that post-Covid syndrome is a thing often not obviously connected to the initial infection; that genetics seem to impact who gets it and who doesn’t, who gets a bad case and who escapes with minor or no symptoms.

You get the point. How can you tell if the many experts in your work life—from those who already work in your plant, mine, or factory, to those who apply to work for you, to third parties offering a data solution for your organization—have enough expertise? At minimum, they should be able help you right away; they should also have enough understanding of your industry’s constant changes, as well as their own need to continue learning, to remain useful to you down the road.

The first part of the answer to this question is, you can identify data experts based on the fact that their priority is always the data—its usefulness, accuracy, availability, and sustainability in your business. The second part of the answer is, they can talk about their solutions and products in plain language so that its benefits for your people and the business itself are understandable to everyone. There’s a famous saying to the effect of, if you can’t explain something simply, you don’t understand it; we can’t help but agree.

We offer simple, effective solutions for complex problems. Let’s discuss what your plant or mine needs, and how we can help.


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