Metcalf’s Law and the increasing value of benchmark studies with more participants

The more members there are in a network, the greater its value. Think of Facebook and LinkedIn. This intuitive appreciation of why more participants in a benchmark study means more reliable and valued results was recognized and quantified by Robert Metcalf, the creator of Ethernet. As the Economist Tech. Quarterly, Dec. 12, 2009 at 24, expressed it, “he quantified a network’s value as roughly proportional to the square of its number of users.”

If 200 companies contribute data to a benchmark study, that network of information has much more value than if 100 companies take part. Metcalf’s Law says that doubling the number of respondents quadruples the network’s informational “value” (since the square of 200 to the square of 100 is four times as much). You can slice and dice the data much more finely and usefully.

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