How Human Resources Can Measure and Leverage Organizational Influence

turning things inside klout
Note: The following is a guest post by Erin Arcario and David C. Thompson of Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals (@boehringerus).

Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc., based in Ridgefield, CT, is the largest U.S. subsidiary of Boehringer Ingelheim Corporation (Ridgefield, CT) and a member of the Boehringer Ingelheim group of companies.

The Boehringer Ingelheim group is one of the world’s 20 leading pharmaceutical companies. Headquartered in Ingelheim, Germany, it operates globally with 145 affiliates and more than 42,000 employees. Since it was founded in 1885, the family-owned company has been committed to researching, developing, manufacturing and marketing novel products of high therapeutic value for human and veterinary medicine.


definition of influence

Image source: The ‘influence’ definition at

We influence, and are influenced, in all aspects of our lives. We think it’s fair to say that some are better at influencing than others and, if you’re trying to ‘sell’ something – and we mean ‘sell’ in its broadest sense – then finding the people who are the ‘best’ at influencing is probably a sound strategy. So, the problem then becomes how to find them?

Finding Influencers

Well, like many things, this is just a search problem, and we are sure that People have been coming up with strategies, and performing research on this topic, since we started ‘selling’ stuff to each other.

Social Influence

Flash forward a few years, the Internet explodes, and becomes, inexorably, Social. Now there are lots of People, real People, with purchasing power, all online, and sharing. These People are connected, sometimes via awkward projections of their actual Social Networks, and are openly talking about where they work, live, and play. They are sharing opinions, news, images, reviews … data, data, data. It’s everywhere, all the time.

What happens if we take all of this data, and all of these connections, and try and see if we can’t figure out an individuals ‘capacity or power’ to influence? That is exactly what Klout, PeerIndex,tweet grader, backtype, Empire Avenue and others are doing.

Well, sort of. I mean, don’t get us wrong, they are obviously measuring something. But the coarse projection to simple metrics is fraught with issues; it’s clearly not ‘real influence’, but it may be correlated to it in some way (we hope). And you can tell that companies are intrigued, because they’re starting to solicit feedback from, and ‘sell’ directly to, ‘influencers’.

Organizational Influence

Now, while this is all happening in the consumer space, what about bringing it inside Organizations? Might there not be some benefit to doing this too? Well, yes, we think there might be. Ever increasingly businesses are becoming Social, through the same, or similar technologies that have empowered the consumer. Employees use Social platforms to form connections, share, network, and collaborate, across geographies, and functions, and some will be better at doing this than others.

Just to be clear, we are not saying that this differential aptitude to Social participation is bad. It’s not. We are most certainly not advocating that all people should aim to be ‘Super Sharers/Networkers’, because that’s a recipe for unmanageable noise, and unrealistic. What we are saying is that we’d like metrics, like Klout and PeerIndex, which help us understand, in an objective way, who are the ones that are better at doing this than most. We then want to make sure, if we are trying to ‘sell’ something at work – that these people are involved; we want them on teams, building teams, and leading teams. One could imagine these measures of ‘influence’ becoming additional metrics for Human Resources professionals to use in ensuring balanced portfolios of talent, strategically aligned to business priorities.


As Organizations encourage Employees to bring their ‘Whole Self’ to the workplace, as the professional and personal spaces collide, uncovering key influencers, empowering and engaging them will, hopefully, lead to better business outcomes.

About the Authors

Erin Arcario Boehringer Ingelheim

An associate director in Boehringer Ingelheim’s Project Management Office, Erin Arcario focuses on the execution and management of US-wide Human Resources initiatives and Business Process Excellence activities in alignment with BI’s global HR strategies. Erin’s 15 years of experience have given her exposure in talent acquisition and development, intercultural management, and global mobility.

Social collaboration is a key operating principal for Erin. When she’s not encouraging others to collaborate, be authentic, and love what they do, you can find Erin interacting with her favorite musicians on Twitter. You, too, can interact with Erin Arcario on Twitter at @earcario.

David C Thompson Boehringer Ingelheim

David is currently U.S. social media strategist at Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc. In this role, David leads a cross‐functional social media advisory committee that is helping to drive change relative to the adoption of social media within the organization, including education/training, risk assessment/management, and governance. Prior to this, David made science and tools that made science. David is a passionate advocate for diversity in all things, and is interested in pretty much everything. Follow David on Twitter (@dcthmpsn).

Related Resources

  1. The Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc. web site
  2. INXPO’s profile on Klout.
  3. INXPO product information: Social Learning and Talent Acquisition.


Post contributed by Dennis Shiao