How to Become a Thought Leader – The Beginning

Here’s my personal story how I began my IoT Thought Leadership journey. From Zero to an Influencer.

Onalytica - From Zero to an IoT Influencer

From Zero to an IoT Thought Leader. When does it all start?

Here’s the story.

One of my staff bumped into me, and he mentioned, “Congratulations, Dr. Mazlan, I saw your name as one of the IoT Thought Leaders.

I was very shocked and asked. “Where did you get the news?” and he said, “I saw in one of the Internet reports.

He gave me the link, and I quickly viewed the report from Onalytica entitled “The Internet of Tings 2014 – Top 100 Thought Leaders.” Wow! It was a pleasant surprise.

A couple of weeks earlier, I was very depressed and frustrated when my boss did not approve my application to attend IoT Asia 2014. I applied for the trip with two of my staff to attend the first IoT event in the region, yet only two of my staff applications were approved but not mine.

Our organization started the work on IoT almost two years earlier, and I thought this would be my best opportunity to hear from the industry leaders.

But the news that my staff brought to me was very unexpected. I wondered – how do I get to be selected by a prestigious organization like Onalytica?

The news spread very fast in the organization, with many people congratulating me. And one of them is the HR Vice President; she congratulated, “Dr. Mazlan, you are now a Thought Leader. That’s an amazing achievement!

But since I have never bothered to know what a “Thought Leader is,” I began to wonder what I did to gain that recognition? And what exactly is a Thought Leader?

How Onalytica Picked the Top 100 IoT Thought Leaders

Onalytica took in all Twitter conversations using the hashtags #IoT and #InternetOfThings and created a network of the top stakeholders discussing the subject. The network diagram of the top 100 is shown below.

Onalytica – Top 100 Network Map

I was thrilled to be ranked No. 20th on the list with Kevin Ashton (Father of IoT ranked 11th). And, of course, very proud to be the only Malaysian (or probably Asian) on the list!

Onalytica – Top 100 List 1-25

But really, how do I reach that stage? Is it by accident? In a way, most probably the answer is yes, but I didn’t realize that the things I did were actually how a Thought Leader should do – by influencing others.

It started probably 1 or 2 years earlier when my team was working on a research area called Wireless Sensor Network, 6LoWPAN (IPv6 Low Powered Area Network), and Internet of Things (IoT).

And during 2012 to 2014, I was a frequent social media user on LinkedIn and Twitter. Whatever I read on IoT topics, I will share this on Twitter and LinkedIn and use that hashtag #IoT. This includes sharing my thoughts about the industry in IoT.

This was when my circle of influence widened with more Twitter users following my Tweets. That’s how these Tweets are captured and analyzed by Onalytica.

The Start of an IoT Thought Leadership

Two years later, in 2016, I was the first Malaysian IoT Speaker in IoT Asia 2016 (“Issues and Challenges of Deploying a Smart Citizen Engagement Solution,” IoT Asia 2016, Singapore Expo, 30-31 March 201). The same event was when my boss rejected my application to attend in 2014. This time, the host invited me to speak with all expenses paid.

That was the beginning of the Thought Leadership journey, whereby I was invited to many speaking engagements as Keynote Speaker, Invited Speaker, TEDx Speaker, and many others. I created an IoT Blog called “IoT World” which became my official channel to share my thoughts and knowledge.

Other than the recognition from Onalytica (Onalytica Report can be downloaded here), I was ranked among Top 50 Global Thought Leaders on the Internet of Things (February 2019) and Digital Disruption (October 2019) by Thinkers360, Top 50 Most Impactful Smart Cities Leaders by World CSR Congress 2017, ranked Top 10 in IoT Top 100 Influencers by Postscapes 2017 & 2018,

It all started with a rejection….. From Zero to an IoT Thought Leader

Dr. Mazlan Abbas

Author: Mazlan Abbas

IOT Evangelist

3 thoughts on “How to Become a Thought Leader – The Beginning”

  1. Well deserved respect and recognition!!! Thank you for making your mark especially from Malaysia! So proud of you 👍

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