By participating in the UK’s SME Business Awards, we had to think deeply about what we do and the impact we are having.
Our category was networking group of the year, so we took our inspiration from some of the thinking from the early pioneers of the internet. Admittedly they were talking about telecommunications and computing networks, but we think the analogy stands up well.
Metcalfe’s Law measures value
For example, Metcalfe’s Law states that the value of a network is proportional to the square of participants. Or put simply, every time you connect another person into a network, and therefore able to make more connections, the impact is multiplied and becomes exponential.
In computing terms, this means if there are 10 connections, the potential value of that network is 10 x 10 = 100. For social networks, the more users, the more effective the service becomes.
Once the artificial intelligence and machine learning kicks in, it becomes even more useful.
Business is about people
Understanding that the number of connected users in a system increases its impact isn’t rocket science, but there are some differences between computing networks and business ones. The most obvious is that business networks involve people.
And while theoretically every member can connect with every other member, they sometimes need a bit of help to do that, unlike computers. And the intelligence behind making those links is never artificial!
We often remind our members that the benefits of being part of the network are proportional to the amount of engagement they have with is – almost unknowingly, we have been putting Metcalfe’s Law in action.
We recognise everyone is busy and that the only people who think full-time about how to ensure that the Agri-TechE network continues to deliver value to its members are its 4.5 staff!!
So we try to be the human equivalents of those computing connections which work so seamlessly between machines, and try to replicate that between our members.
In our discussions with farmers, policy makers and tech companies, we often hear the mantra “measure to manage” – when discussing how to improve productivity in livestock and crops and to demonstrate the impact of environmental management measures.
The answer is 50,625
So how does the impact of our network measure up?! At the time of writing, we have calculated the potential “effect” of our network to our members to be 50,625 and rising (excluding the wider agri-tech community with whom we routinely work).
While this is a pretty meaningless statistic it does demonstrate that impact is a function of the number of connected users in the system, and that’s where we are constantly trying to increase our impact – by brokering, connecting and facilitating new relationships and connections.
We were so proud to be crowned Networking Group of the Year 2019 at the SME Business Awards. Helping our members is at the heart of everything we do. And now we can measure it, we can improve it even more.
What’s your “Metcalfe Metric?!”