The continued proliferation of product and service rankings constitutes one of the most important challenges facing organisations today. Few aspects of the economy and society remain untouched by rankings of one form or another. At this moment in time, however, rankings are both broadening and deepening their coverage. Certain phenomenon can be ranked many times over by different offline and increasingly online measures. New social media are being used and mined to provide novel forms of ranking and assessment. Since negative assessments, or a failure to appear on a significant ranking, can have immediate impacts upon consumer or client decision making there is no choice but to take these evaluations seriously. But this presents a new and pressing problem for organisations: given the increasing number and variety, which rankings should they respond to? And how?
This project investigates how new specialist forms of technical and market specialists have emerged to help organisations confront and respond to this growing pressure. New groups of ‘influencer relations’ experts can be found across industrial sectors. In this project, we focus on those within the information and communication technology (ICT) area where there is evidence emerging that they have been highly effective in creating opportunities for local influence over global rankings, and that their presence is having consequences for (re)shaping the power of rankings more generally. Yet despite their obvious importance, we still know very little if anything about these experts and the kinds of knowledge they produce or influence they wield.