Top 100 Thought Leaders and Influencers to follow in 2020 and why!


Karl Smith named in the The Awards Magazine, Top 100 Global Thought Leaders and Influencers to Follow in 2020. It’s wonderful sounding but what does it actually mean and does it matter at all?

What are Thought Leaders and Influencers

When I first came across the concept of Thought Leadership and Influence I had though it related to teenagers giving makeup tips for free products or pseudo celebrities from reality TV areas endorsing products to make a living. Since neither area interested me in the slightest I was surprised that such a thing existed in relation to consulting services or technology and devices like mobile phones and personal computing. So in my normal response to new ideas I investigated it and found that Thought Leadership has been around for a very long time in pharmaceuticals where published and known doctors let their peers know about new products.

Elihu Katz in answers the question, “Who is an opinion leader?” One or more of these factors make noteworthy opinion leaders:

- expression of values
- professional competence
- nature of their social network

The Influencer aspect is certainly newish but can also really be focused back to news media and the editorial format that is followed and represents the readers preference. As I have been blogging since 2001 and writing since 1989 about my work I appear to be such a person from what I have already done and continue to do today. My main blog garners around 4,500,000 readers a year, when I first started it was mainly academic institutions in the USA and from the analytics it was clear that my free materials were being used to supplement several major University courses on Computer Human-Interaction and what UX was called in those days in the US Information Architecture.

Why do Thought Leaders and Influencers matter?

As we change so does how we acquire knowledge and what are our sources of truth. When there is no longer a trusted route “people like me” and “people I recognise” become the source of truth. The now famous facebook algorithms that mimic these perceptions drive content that Facebook thinks we will like. And shockingly Facebook is often right, people really don’t like to think, they do want an easy life and are giving up their personal freedoms for shared simple experiences. And this is where Thought Leaders and Influencers add the most value as they are clearly not the establishment so may be “people like me” and the “people I recognise”.

Discovering I’m Thought Leader and Influencer

While I was aware through my engagement as a Key Opinion Leader with Huawei Technologies since 2017 as a member of their global programme that my social media had impact with decision makers, I had never looked for recognition. I suppose I had always just focused on creating original content like my Huawei KOL peers. In May 2020 however I found Thinkers360 and thought it would be interesting to upload my content. What I discovered was that I was already a Thought Leader and Influencer but just did not know it. I have found the whole thing to be a nice gamification and a really good way to understand how my materials are viewed by others, so thank you Thinkers360 for giving me that context. I have gained a number of top positions and honourable mentions that really exposes the breadth of my experience to a wider audience.

Some snapshots of Ranking on Thinkers360 Today

Karl Smith ranked 5th overall Global Thought Leadership and Influencer
Karl Smith ranked 1st in Agile Global Thought Leadership and Influencer
Karl Smith ranked 1st in Big Data Global Thought Leadership and Influencer
Karl Smith ranked 1st in Customer Experience Global Thought Leadership and Influencer
Karl Smith ranked 1st in Customer Loyalty Global Thought Leadership and Influencer
Karl Smith ranked 1st in Digital Transformation Global Thought Leadership and Influencer
Karl Smith ranked 1st in Predictive Analytic Global Thought Leadership and Influencer

If your a an academic, author, speaker or an entrepreneur definitely sign up for the free account you may knock me off my positions, but that's fine because it makes your insight more accessible to others and that aids humanity.

Thought Leader and Influencer Ethics

I have some very strong ethics around representation of, well really, anything. I believe I have a duty of care for people who read what I write to not mislead them. This may sound counter intuitive for an influencer but
for me just living is not everything, how I live is everything

I can’t represent something as good if I don’t know it is, just like I can’t give a job reference to someone I’ve not directly worked with. I think people have a right to expect truth, regardless of what that means now. The media describes our social media led world as post truth world, although this may be a shock to some people in marketing, I’m not selling the trust my readers have given me.

What I will do however is, when provided early access to information, about products or services that will aid people, then I will write about it. Often I will not write a face on or broadcast article as I’m not here to be a channel, I will compare the offering in market context and historically and bypass regional and economic bias. For example with Huawei I’m happy to still be involved with them, regardless of all the negative hype because I have no empire to protect. I wrote Government as a Service (GaaS), Spying as a Service (SaaS) the United Kingdom exports some unexpected things as a response to the ridiculous arguments about security risks that Huawei’s mobile infrastructure represents, because American politicians are crying WOLF. The real issue here is the American cultural attitude to investment in infrastructure and the fact they have dropped the 5G ball, they think private companies should set it up for the whole country, mainly because they know the government can’t. The USA is a collection of states not a centralised Country not since Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal has the central government taken direct responsibility to resolve major infrastructure issues. I think there is an article there!

About Karl Smith

Karl Smith is a globally known founder in Customer Experience, User Experience, Agile, Digital Transformation and Thought Leader and Influencer based on projects delivered with Fortune 500 companies. He has been focused of Customer Experience since the 1980’s, Digital Transformation since the 1990’s and Agile since 2004 to deliver Digital First Thinking and Transformations and Mobile First since 2006. He has only recently discovered his Thought Leadership and Influencer impact but his blogs impact is clear having a readership uninterrupted by advertising. He has a presence on LinkedIn, Twitter, Xing, Behance, Facebook, Crunchbase, HivemindNetwork and many more networks with a focus on a specific audience, to create engagement and to ensure that he learns from others as well as shares his original content about the work he has done, inventions and insights.

Author of Designing for Human Experience
Due out November 2020
E-Book: ISBN 978–1–8382370–0–4
Paperback: ISBN 978–1–8382370–1–1

By Karl A L Smith

Keywords: Digital Transformation, Social, Leadership

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