Now in its third year, the EMC Elect program seeks to recognize engagement with, commitment to, and leadership in the EMC technical community-at-large. EMC has been very active in reaching out to the Elect community, working to involve them in events, and providing access to product information and technical resources.
I am honored and pleased to have been named to the EMC Elect program for the third year in a row. This year a total of 102 people were named, approximately a 27.5% increase over the total named for 2014. You can see the full list of names here.
My involvement with the EMC Elect 2015 goes a little deeper than that. I was one of twelve members of the EMC Elect 2014 who were asked to be on the panel of judges to help select the EMC Elect 2015.
The Selection Process
One of the things I’m very pleased with is the transparency those running the Elect program have always brought, and continue to bring, to the program. As an example, yesterday, Mark Browne, one of the EMC folks responsible for the care and feeding of the Elect program, posted this article summarizing the selection criteria and the process. The brief, teaser format of the post don’t do the process justice.
The folks at EMC spent hours sorting through the 450 nominations, verifying details (e.g.: is the nominee an EMC employee / partner / customer, do they actually have the EMC certifications they claim, etc.), and then organizing all the information in a way that allowed for fair comparisons.
Once that was set, they brought the twelve judges into the conversation. From the beginning, we were all in agreement on the main selection criteria, namely:
- Engagement on the EMC Community Network (ECN)
- Engagement on Twitter
- Strong technical presence via blog posts and/or live involvement in industry-relevant events
Additionally, the judges were also all in agreement on three points:
- All judging must be fair and transparent
- Any choices made must be defensible, i.e.: we must be willing to stand behind the choice of any candidates we selected for EMC Elect
- A small group of well-qualified candidates was far better than a large group of partially-qualified ones
With that in mind, a point scale was applied to each area the nominees were judged on, and then the judges spent hours reading through Twitter streams, ECN threads, and blog posts. All that content was judged on:
- Relevance (to the IT/storage industry in general, and to EMC in particular)
- Technical Merit
Here, we ran into a few unanticipated difficulties, mostly language barriers. Since the EMC Elect have international reach, in turns out that not everyone tweets or posts in languages that each of the judges can read. If I don’t speak or read the language you’re writing in, I can easily judge the volume and frequency of your contributions, with some work I judge the relevance (mostly since names and pictures are still a universal language), but I can’t fairly judge technical merit or quality. These hurdles were overcome by the EMC team bringing in some multilingual folks to help out.
Other things were involved in the scoring process that I think contributed to leveling the playing field and to helping build the right kind of community. For example, people get selected for community programs like EMC Elect for the writing and speaking they do, but, generally, EMC employees and partners have easier access to technical information about EMC products than others do. To even things out, all EMC employee nominees had their final point score reduced by 20%, and partner nominees had their scores reduced by 10%.
Other adjustments were made to scores as well in order to help ensure we were selecting for the type of community we want to build. If a nominee wrote and/or spoke about things and vendors besides EMC, and did so in a balanced, even fashion, that nominee received a small number of bonus points, since that was seen as providing more value than someone who is all-EMC and nothing-but-EMC. Additionally, if a nominee was deemed to be a “connector” — someone who is adapt at crossing community boundaries and bringing people together — that was also worth a small bonus to the score since the whole intent is community building.
In order to level out an inadvertent “viewpoint bias”, each nominee was judged and scored by more than one judge, and point totals were averaged.
Once we’d narrowed down the pool of nominees, we met live, though not in person. The judges joined in multiple video conferences together to discuss, debate, and question all choices. It was only after multiple reviews, re-reviews, and finally consensus, that we put forth the 101 names that EMC announced today.
EMC Elect 2015 by the Numbers
Let’s take a look at the breakdown of EMC Elect 2015 members. First, let’s look at the growth of the program. It started small, with 75 members in 2013, grew to 80 in 2014, and (assuming that everyone named accepts) will be at 102 in 2015. For visual comparison, that looks like this:
Next, let’s look at the categories of the EMC Elect 2015 members and their roles in the community. I know that the folks running the program would love to see the Elect membership at an “ideal” one-third/one-third/one-third split of EMC employees, EMC partners, and Other (which would include EMC customers and independents), but, as I noted above, it can be harder for those in the “Other” category to qualify, so it’s a difficult balancing act.
One of the things we talked about as judges was our feeling that 50% was the absolute upper limit for employee membership in EMC Elect. Yes, 33% might be ideal, but going higher than 50% would detract from the credibility of the program itself. The final breakdown of the 101 members for 2015 is:
- 49 EMC Employees (~48%)
- 37 EMC Partners (~36%)
- 11 EMC Customers (~10.8%)
- 5 Independents (~4.9%)
Visually, that split looks like this:
It’s also interesting to look at changes and turnover in the community. 51 of the 80 members of the EMC Elect in 2014 made the 2015 list (63.75%), while 29 of the 75 members of the EMC Elect in 2013 made the 2015 list (38.66%).
25 of the 75 members of the EMC Elect in 2013 have been Elect all three years of the program (33.33%), and 7 of the original 10 Founding Members made the 2015 list.
Another way to look at the EMC Elect for 2015 is that it’s made up of:
- 45 first-time members of Elect
- 32 second-time members
- 25 third-time members
For the visual folks, that looks like this:
All in all, I think this is a good thing. I like that the EMC Elect designation is only valid for a year, and thus recognizes recent and relevant work. I also think that communities don’t really grow if you don’t add new, fresh voices.
I’m looking forward to working with all of my fellow EMC Elect in the year ahead.