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Deutsche Telekom’s Internal Crowdsourcing

Deutsche Telekom’s Internal Crowdsourcing

Editor's Note: The following guest post comes to us from Christian Hoerbelt of Crowdworx. It appears exclusively on

Even today, companies rarely use collective intelligence-based Web 2.0 tools, even though their value has been proven time and time again. Take social forecasting as an example – enterprises can use this tool for various purposes, such as predictions and information gathering, but it can also increase employee motivation.

Social Forecasting, Explained

Collective intelligence solutions for business take a three-pronged approach to crowdsourcing. First of all, they implement it internally, and do not source it outside the firm, which is the more traditional application of crowdsourcing. Secondly, the wisdom of the crowd (also known as collective intelligence) is collected and aggregated through a virtual prediction market. This process is called social forecasting, because the answers can be used to form predictions and they are collected in an open, collaborative environment.

- Crowdsourcing with Employees: Social Forecasting in Action  

This leads to the most important point: gamification. Incentives are provided within the prediction market, so every employee is highly motivated to achieve the best results for him or herself – which ultimately also benefits the company. For the most precise responses and predictions, an employee receives rewards and points. The principle is very simple: the closer one’s answer is to the actual outcome, the more points that person accumulates, ultimately leading to more rewards for her or him. Earning higher rankings and accumulating more points, can be used to collect prizes. That is the basic gamification approach, and it can be altered to fit specific company needs.

Social Forecasting In Action

Deutsche Telekom, Europe’s biggest telecommunications company, had a challenge: it wanted to accumulate the wisdom and experience of their employees, who are scattered across different locations, and derive key performance indicators from this data. Particularly important was tapping into the expertise of the employees regarding customer needs, competition, and market trends. The goal was to transform the collective intelligence of the employees into a useful decision support tool for the management.

It is difficult to organize this only using solutions like internal wikis or blogs. Furthermore, the management was seeking to receive predictions about future events, and analyzing big data from previous projects did not tap into the workers’ entire knowledge pool. So Deutsche Telekom decided to use social forecasting.

Once the software was integrated in its internal network, Deutsche Telekom was able to master the collective intelligence challenge. The management asked their employees questions on relevant business topics. This new form of cooperation between management and employees provided new insights and ideas for the management. With the combination of social forecasting and gamification, the most relevant questions were answered by harnessing the collective IQ of all employees. The exercise was also able to increase overall employee motivation and engagement. The employees started to discuss the company’s decisions, products, and goals in question among themselves. This was not the original stated goal of the exercise, but it became one of the main benefits of internal crowdsourcing.

The Impact

After only four days, a clear ranking emerged with workers only considering a few ideas to be business critical and to have relevant sales potential. This clear and highly relevant outcome was based on 18,000 opinions from employees, which were collected and processed in just four days. Thus, the output had a much larger sample size than any analysis conducted by a small panel of experts.

At Deutsche Telecom, employees are now regularly surveyed to gauge opinion about relevant business questions — and the best answers are rewarded. Among employees, this resulted in increased brand loyalty and feeling of being part of the company. Social Forecasting not only allowed Deutsche Telekom to collect the knowledge and experience of employees for management purposes, but also led to a rise in employee satisfaction.

Christian Hoerbelt is Strategist at CrowdWorx, the Berlin-based collective intelligence company. Founded in 2007, CrowdWorx provides social forecasting solutions for business.

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