On 2 April 2008, the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS) formed the OASIS Open Reputation Management Systems (ORMS) Technical Committee to address standards and interoperability for information used to evaluate the relative trustworthiness of individuals and institutions participating in Internet communities. The committee has been organized to define formats for reputation scores that are used to evaluate reputations in a growing variety of circumstances, including Internet auctions and peer-to-peer networks.
The assertion that "reputation is everything" may very well be true when applied to a corporation's brand equity. "Reputation" is a very broad term that encompasses a wide variety of factors which all contribute to forming an analysis of the degree to which an institution or individual can be trusted. Enterprise Internet reputation management is emerging as a critical component of business risk management strategies due to several factors, including Internet anonymity, the rise of social media, and the persistence and easy availability of information via search engines and other mechanisms. Successful enterprises understand the threats and opportunities inherent in helping build trust with customers, prospects, business partners, investors and employees online.
Online reputation scores are a relatively recent innovation. Numeric ratings are vulnerable to manipulation and are not suitable for every situation in which previously unfamiliar entities need to make a trust evaluation. Nevertheless, despite these limitations, such ratings are increasing and many of them will likely prove useful. Groups like the ORMS committee that plan to develop standards for reputational representation could be highly beneficial, as would be any effort at sharing, comparing and verifying such information. These groups should avoid attempting to impose a simplified standard scoring approach or method of auditing the results. The ORMS committee's statement that it does not intend to address the core issue of defining reputational assessment algorithms signals that the scope of its effort will be appropriately limited. The committee will focus on trying to define potential portability of the building blocks of reputation scoring from Web site to Web site.
This is a significant first step in an extremely difficult area of interoperability. Given the social, technical and political complications, Gartner does not expect the ORMS committee to be completely successful; however, even if it meets with limited success, it will likely offer many useful lessons learned.
Enterprises: If you are generating reputational scoring as a component of your online presence or service, follow the work of the ORMS technical committee. Seriously consider taking part. Be aware, though, that several years may pass before this work has any effect on individuals or organizations that consume this information.
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