BEST PRACTICE: Crowdsourcing 20,000 heads are better than one
Published:21-12-2010 Author: Jon Holloway
You can count on one hand the number of companies and brands using crowdsourcing to develop ideas, propositions and products. Right? Wrong. The terms 'crowdsourcing', 'co-creation' and the 'power of people' have been floating around for years. Companies like Dell, Starbucks, Pepsi and Google have been using the power of the crowd for years to help innovate and shape their business, products and services, and you can join this elite bunch with simple planning. Think internal When people think of utilising the crowd, they always go to the people who buy the product or service ± the customers. This for me is only one half of the winning equation; most businesses will trade exclusively on the skills of the people they employ, but have no real platform to garner that knowledge and power, let alone a process to put it in to action. When thinking about crowdsourcing always consider the power of your internal knowledge, from the juniors to the board members. I can guarantee that there is a wealth of ideas from within, which could change anything from marketing, to products, to the way you run your business.
Take the first easy step; create an internal community to identify the champions, tools like Yammer (www.yammer.com), Facebook groups and Salesforce Chatter allow you to think and ask across boundaries.
Colonies not communities When looking at crowdsourcing and co-creation I prefer building colonies. Why? A colony is composed of many distinct individuals united to form a whole. We are talking about creating a group that is the most creative, who have the ideas, who want to be aligned with your business, the customer and employee fanatics. The reason I distinguish between the two is very simple. Thinking and ideas only come from a certain type of person. If you dilute this to the definition of a community, the ideas become weaker and that defeats the real core objective of getting the best of the best. Always think fanatic first, community second. The principle It is human nature to ask for ideas from other people; marketing agencies wouldn't exist without this natural instinct. The basic principle is this, if you get 50 people from the same background in the room, you will get relatively similar answers as they are constrained by what they think and have done before. If you add one person from a completely different background in to the mix, you get something new. It is known as intelligent naivety.
The crowdsource model The idea of a crowdsource model is to capture the crowd, create a colony and harness the people you never speak to. It can be illustrated as follows: Internal fanatics + External fanatics = Crowdsourcing Internal Fanatics ± These are the employee champions taken from your internal colony, the bright sparks and those people who share the most, talk the most and naturally have ideas on the platform you have chosen. These people will ignite thinking among other like-minded employees and work to spread the message throughout your organisation. External fanatics ± These are the customer champions, those customers who go the extra mile to work with you or work for you. Most sales or account teams can identify the customers who fit the bill, the advocates of your brand, product or services. The fanatics are already out there making it easier for you, your jobs is to channel them in to an initiative. All you need now is an idea and a great platform. Get the right platform Whenever I talk to people about platforms, it is always a look of amazement I get back. There are a myriad of platforms, from free to corporate that you can take advantage of, some are in their infancy, but others have learned and become turnkey solutions, here are some of my favorites:
Salesforce (www.salesforce.com) If you have Salesforce within your organisation, the ideas platform ± or community as it is now known ± is perfect for all your crowdsourcing requirements. Everything from ideas to voting and community management, seamlessly integrated with your CRM process. Crowdworks (www.crowdworks.net) A great platform to introduce everything you need to your organisation, large or small. Generate ideas, ask questions and get the colony voting on what is best. Idea scale (www.ideascale.com) One of the best platforms I have come across, the free version is brilliant and for only $99 per month (approximately £63) you get all sorts of additional goodies. email@example.com
Companies like Dell, Starbucks, Pepsi and Google have been using the power of the crowd for years to help innovate and shape their business, products and services, and you can join this elite bunch with simple planning.
To do crowdsourcing at its best, you should:
Create an internal community to identify the champions, tools like Yammer (www.yammer.com), Facebook groups and Salesforce Chatter allow you to think and ask across boundaries;
If you get 50 people from the same background in the room, you will get relatively similar answers as they are constrained by what they think and have done before. If you add one person from a completely different background in to the mix, you get something new;
Get the right platform.