Our ability to compute a reputation score in specific topic areas is gradually improving.
- IMDB has created a starmeter to measure audience interest in a movie star;
- Klout and PeerIndex are measuring twitter (and other social media) influence in terms of personal audience reach and ability to propagate messages
- Ebay has been providing a rating score for both online auction buyers and sellers since its inception in 1995.
What would it mean though, if we took reputation by rating and applied this seriously within the enterprise, specifically a large management consulting firm?
An imaginary tale…
Boggis consulting is struggling with Guerilla PLC, their largest client, who has asked to renegotiate the rate card for all consulting services for 2012. Boggis engagement lead, Tony Francis, is already struggling to balance a bench of highly paid and talented consultants against Guerilla’s thirst for consulting services to bring their business into the 21st century.
Tony’s main problem is that each consultant’s rate card is set based on only two signals – job title and salary. Neither of which he can affect, nor more importantly can Barry Davis from the Guerilla procurement team. Also, he’s still trying to put out the fires after the SAP project assignment where he dropped a group of three raw graduates at Guerilla’s client offices in Carlisle and they failed to demonstrate the value Boggis was charging them out at. It seemed they neither knew enough about the SAP software module, to configure the new deployment in time, nor did they have enough experience to figure it out on their own.
For 2012, he offers Guerilla an interesting alternative to the fixed rate card, that satisfies both his need to defend existing billing rates (and indeed a slight hike) and Barry’s requirement for greater transparency and influence over the rate card.
Tony implements a reputation system across Boggis’s 3,000 consultants by applying a Klout-like reputation engine to each consultant. He takes into account Yammer activity, formalised rating feedback from clients on each week’s work, as well as internal management assessments. All ratings are broken down by individual topic expertise (such as SAP modules). This produces a score which he then applies as a factor (agreed with Barry) to get a rate card per consultant (refreshed each month) across each topic area.
Barry likes the system because instead of being faced with a big bill each month for general consulting services he feels as if he has hired several hundred individual expert consultants who are really worth the money he is paying. Tony likes the system, because it deepens the bond between the two companies and keeps his competitors at bay.
There are some interesting side effects which the HR managers at Boggis notice too – one is that top stars become easier and easier to assess – the closer link between topic reputation and actual billing rate allows them to see rising stars in each topic area within the company and promote accordingly. For the consultants the gamification of their reputation, provides a much needed visibility to see where they fit with regard to their peers and a consequent improvement to ensure they stay level.
A good system? Would it work?
Well I’m trialling a prototype of a topic based engine with the Top 20 Gamification Gurus that leverages general scores from klout and some signals to guage specific subject expertise on a monthly basis. I’d be interested to see whether a full scale system like this would work for a consulting firm, or if indeed someone is already doing this. (There always is, somewhere…)