CDO Club Identifies the Top Ten Most Influential Chief Digital Officers on Klout

Cross-posted with permission from the CDO Club

Who are the most influential online Chief Digital Officers (CDOs)?

According to newly released data from the CDO Club and the influence ranking site Klout, two CDOs are tied as number one: Sree Sreenivasan, Chief Digital Officer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, along with Jason Hirschhorn, former CDO at MTV. Both have earned a Klout score of 81.


The number two spot is held by Stephen Gillett, former CDO of Best Buy, whose score is 79. The third position is another tie: Rachel Stern-Haot, Chief Digital Officer for the State of New York, with a score of 70, and Romain Pigenel, CDO at the Présidence de la République—the office of the President of France—who also earned a Klout score of 70.

The complete list of the top 10 most influential CDOs is displayed below (actually, there are 19 people total, given the ties). Click here for the CDO Club’s Top Ten CDOs Twitter list, and to automatically add their names to your Twitter feed.

CDO Club’s Top Ten Chief Digital Officers by Klout Score:
#1 Sree Sreenivasan and Jason Hirschhorn
#2 Stephen Gillett
#3 Rachel Stern-Haot and Romain Pigenel
#4 Vivian Schiller, Dave Linabury, and Perry Hewitt
#5 Adam Hirsch
#6 Ken Burbary and Paul John Peña
#7 Darren Herman and Rob Norman
#8 Sean Finnegan, Alesha Bishop, Shwen Gwee, and Scott Sorokin
#9 Rikard Steiber
#10 Sue Jenks

Note: This list is limited to CDOs who currently hold, or previously held, the title of Chief Digital Officer at a major organization for at least one year.

Four of the top CDOs have either keynoted at the inaugural CDO Summit (Vivian Schiller of Twitter), or will keynote at the upcoming CDO Summit on April 22-23 2014 at Time Warner in NYC (Sree Sreenivasan of the Metropolitan Museum of Art; Perry Hewitt of Harvard University; and Rachel S. Haot of the State of New York).


What are Klout rankings based on?

The site calculates its scores by examining several online social signals: Twitter retweets and mentions; Facebook comments, wall posts, and likes; LinkedIn comments and likes; and inputs from Google+ and other social sources.

OK. But should you really assign much meaning to a Klout Score?

Yes and no.

On the one hand, the score reflects the accepted online “wisdom of crowds” process that assesses influence by measuring popularity and group actions. Whether it’s Google’s PageRank, Twitter followers, or blog trackbacks, the ability to identify the most popular sites and people has proven to be a useful, if imperfect, way to filter who and what to pay attention to.

For example, when you search on YouTube for a “how-to” video, you are more likely to click on a video that has millions of views, versus clicking on one with just dozens.

The “wisdom of crowds” notion is also meaningful because some people and companies do treat and interact with others’ differently, based on their Klout or other online influence scores. (You can automatically view the Klout scores of people you follow on Twitter by downloading a Klout Chrome plugin here)

And Klout’s rankings provide leads to interesting people whose thoughts and opinions are, in fact, heard by many other people.


Finally, these lists can get a good discussion going—they’re kind of fun!

On the other hand, Klout scores and other social ranking lists are an imprecise measurement of true influence. There are a few reasons why:

  • Many influential people are too busy to engage frequently on Twitter, Facebook, and other social networks, or they simply don’t prioritize that activity.
  • Small gaps of a few points between people’s scores don’t necessarily mean any real difference in their overall influence.
  • People’s scores can be “unfairly” penalized for odd reasons, such as a name change due to a change in marital status.
  • Someone may be highly influential with key decision makers inside a small, tightly linked online network whose members do not frequently connect with people in more popular outside networks. That makes it harder for that niche influencer’s score to rise.
  • Some people actively work to try gaming the system.

And ideally, influence should be determined not merely by the quantity of one’s communications, but rather by the quality—what is their insight, understanding, and vision?


And, of course, in the biggest picture, influence must include offline connections and activity: Where are they speaking and to whom? What prestigious journals have published their work? What is the person’s level of respect? Leadership capabilities? And so on.

Yet those are factors we can’t easily quantify.

And perception, as we know, is reality.

What do you think? Are influence-ranking sites like Klout, Kred, and Peer Index scores important? Let’s discuss it in the comments.

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