Monday, May 16, 2011

Microsoft Dynamics Most Influential People: Popularity vs Influence

Now that the Microsoft Dynamics Most Influential People Top 100 list is out I wanted to first congratulate everyone of my fellow MVPs and bloggers whose names appeared somewhere on the list and continue to wish everyone success. However, I also wanted to address those of you who were nominated (or not) and clearly not part of this list - see  David Musgrave's article Microsoft Dynamics Top 100 Most Influential People for 2011 published, and Mark Polino's article Top 100–Who’s Missing? for more information on the latter.

Still, I feel compelled to write this article because I believe that being "influential" has nothing to do with being "popular". Though one could argue that these two words are used interchangeably, the bottom line is that they do stand their own ground. Being influential allows you to affect outcomes, to drive people to do things because you ask them to do so or because you are doing them and they follow suit, whereas popularity is nice and clearly something my teenage daughters are concerned with - not a seasoned professional who blogs and deliver quality content to the Microsoft Dynamics ERP community and industry as a whole.

Unfortunately, measuring influence is a difficult proposition, so to say that I am influential, or that other person is influential is a mouthful. Influence clearly sounds better, however popularity is much, much easier to measure. Hence nominations and voting are at hand when it comes to select who's most influential - though most people do so thinking of popularity.

So, is it even possible to measure influence? I personally think influence is more a qualitative than quantitative element of blogging, social media, or any other influence mechanism used in the process and as such I would have to say it's difficult, if not impossible, to accurately measure. And what about people who work behind the scenes? What about someone like Kirill Tatarinov, Corporate VP at Microsoft for example? How can you measure his influence in the community? How can you tell if he influenced your decision to buy Microsoft Dynamics GP, or CRM, or any other product in the Dynamics ERP family? After all, he is not a blogger and you sure don't see him directly advertising anything, do you? Of course, he gets to do all these things at conferences, but this is every once in a while. So the question still lingers... how do you measure influence?

Disclaimer: I am not saying the "big boss" is not influential, just merely using him as an example to state my case.

I personally think my influence (if any!) comes from my professional network and my credentials as a Microsoft MVP. If I report a problem to Microsoft, it might be fixed much more faster instead of being buried in a mountain of bug reports and support tickets. If I identify a product feature that the community as a whole is requesting, it might actually get some consideration given my (perceived) status within the community. If I speak at a conference about a product like Support Debugging Tool, chances are people will go back to their organizations to download and test it. I don't necessarily see how those things can be accurately or fairly measured. How do you/can you measure the effects one person's action over another? How many minds do you have to change to be "influential"? The bottom line is you can't measure enough of the elements needed to establish if someone is influential or not.

If you really must rank the Microsoft Dynamics most "influential" people, then clearly you do what you must to get the results, but why not call it what it is... Microsoft Dynamics Most "Popular" People - automatic voting certainly did not help the case either. However, I take issue with this process because it leaves out people who are making a real difference in the Microsoft Dynamics community.

Now, can anyone explain why Doug Burgum is still considered "influential"? Rest my case!

Until next post!

Mariano Gomez, MVP
IntellPartners, LLC


Unknown said...

Good one, Mariano. Thanks for showing a completely different perception about this entire topic. As you said, it's quite difficult indeed to measure "influence".

Doug Pitcher said...

I like the post. I would say being popular isn't all that bad. The more popular you are the more influence you have over a bigger audience of people and the more you can direct others to make a difference in the community.

I think a list such as this should have a coaches vote (NBA all star reference) to include the obvious. Nothing against the majority of people that made rankings but I think it undermines the validity of a list like this if someone like David Musgrave isn't included.

Mariano Gomez said...

Thanks, and I do believe it.

Mariano Gomez, MVP

Mariano Gomez said...

I completely agree with your observation, re: David Musgrave.

Mariano Gomez, MVP

Anonymous said...

You might be taking it a little more seriously than most. I immediately noticed that you could vote repeatedly along with the fact that many newsletters were sent out requesting votes. Those things alerted me that this wasn't a serious poll anyway. Sure, it's interesting and a bit fun but I don't think anyone (like David) should feel slighted. It's a silly thing like my 13 niece's friends do on Facebook.

Hopefully all of us just take the time to express our gratitude to all the helpers out there throughout the year! I try to remember to do this but please forgive me if I forget.