In response to my recent blog - How do you measure an idea? Jason Cresswell has given his thoughts below. Jason is co-founder of Resonance, a tech startup applying the latest cognitive computing techniques to the analysis of reputation.
Reputation is often considered to be intangible and unmeasurable. I would argue, however, that it is highly complex instead, which just makes measuring it especially difficult rather than impossible.
Reputation is created out of the interaction of three components: businesses do things that have positive and negative impacts, which the media reports on, and which people read and react to (see diagram below).
Each component of this diagram, however, represents something complex: ‘businesses’ refers to hundreds of millions of companies all working together within multi-tier global supply chains; ‘news media’ refers to thousands of reports published on a daily basis in every language; and ‘people’ refers to the billions of people who read the news and share the opinions that they form. When you combine them all together, then they form an unimaginably complex web. The sum of this web is reputation.
The key to understanding reputation, however, is the news media. For example, Volkswagen’s reputation wasn’t damaged by the emission’s defeat devices that it had been fitting to its cars for years until it had been reported on. The public had no reason to doubt the company until they had credible information that told them their trust was misplaced.
So reputation can be measured through a thorough analysis of each and every media story, which can be measured across a number of scales, including: the credibility and reach of a source, the type and severity of allegation or praise, how many people read and share each story, and how often a story is repeated across multiple news channels over time.
This, however, is not an easy thing to do due to the volumes of data involved: this is Big Data at its biggest. At present the companies that are tackling this problem are either able to process large quantities of data, but can only measure the news against a few of the scales mentioned above; or they measure the news against more scales, but use teams of analysts to do this, meaning that only small amounts of data are processed. In either case the data is only partially analysed producing erroneous results.
Given this, it’s not surprising that people feel that reputation is intangible! Technology, however, is finally creating the solutions that we need to be able to process all of this data to high levels of granularity, and when this is done we will finally be able to measure reputation. Working in both tech and reputation myself, I am confident in saying that this solution is just around the corner. The most interesting question, for me, is what would people do with the data if they had it?
Jason Cresswell is founder of Resonance, a tech startup applying the latest cognitive computing techniques to the analysis of reputation. Previous to starting Resonance Jason worked in the senior management team of a leading Environmental, Social and Governance Risk (ESG) business intelligence provider in the finance sector.