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