With online social interactions becoming a huge part of our day-to-day lives, both for personal use through Facebook or Twitter and for work with the growing phenomenon of social business through platforms like Jive, the influence of the crowd has become a major factor in our world.
Whether it’s IT decision makers allowing employees to have a say in software and device selection, users working together to fund an interesting project or new product or simply you browsing reviews on your favorite shopping site, more and more information is being crowdsourced, bringing a social element to decisions big and small, professional and personal. Here are seven ways that crowdsourcing is influencing the world around us.
1) Social Business
By employing a social business platform like Jive, companies can tap into their own, internal crowds to quickly and effectively get employee feedback on a variety of issues. Companies can run surveys to improve business processes, engage employees with contests to come up with new and innovative ideas or simply analyze employee behavior to improve internal communication. By employing social technologies, companies are poised to unlock as much as $1.3 trillion in additional value for their businesses.
2) Crowdsourced Problem Solving
Through the use of web-based incentivized competitions, companies are crowdsourcing process improvements or solutions to business problems. For example, in 2009, Netflix ran a competition to see if anyone could create a more effective recommendation algorithm for its movie titles. Over 20,000 teams entered Netflix’s competition with the ultimate winners providing a recommendation algorithm that was 10.06% more accurate that Netflix’s own – an impressive leap forward in accuracy for just two years’ time.
The Crowdfunding phenomenon, where users come together to contribute funds to a project or product, exploded in 2012, with the popularity of sites like Kickstarter skyrocketing. As of this writing, Kickstarter users had successfully funded over 34,000 projects to the tune of almost $400 million. By relying on the crowd to finance your project, you can get a feel for demand before you invest heavily in an unsure endeavor; if enough people pledge funds to get you off the ground you’ll have at least some assurance that there are people out there willing to buy your product or idea.
4) Knowledge Sharing
Whether you realized it or not, you’ve probably already engaged crowdsourcing through the idea of “wisdom in the crowd” – knowledge that is freely editable and shared with the world through sites like Wikipedia and Quora. By tapping into the entirety of the Internet, you access experts in almost every field imaginable, and features like discussion pages, commenting, voting for correct answers and freely editable articles keep the level of accuracy high, with mistakes and pranks being quickly squashed.
5) Consumerization of IT
As more and more employees demand the usage of their favorite personal smartphones, tablets and apps at work, IT departments are faced with a choice: either continue making the decisions for the employees in terms of what devices they can use or leverage their own crowd’s preferences and allow employees to BYOD. More and more businesses are shifting towards the latter, leading to a happier, more loyal and more productive workforce.
6) A Different Kind of Ridesharing
One of the most buzzworthy apps of 2012 was Waze, a turn-by-turn GPS navigation software that differs from your typical GPS in a very notable way. Waze uses crowdsourced information to generate traffic updates and provide routing based on the information provided by its users. As you drive around with the app running, Waze automatically provides traffic updates to other users around you. You can also report things like accidents, speed traps and construction to other Waze users. Waze continues to update the accuracy of its service simply by leveraging the power of the crowd.
7) Online Shopping and User Reviews
When’s the last time you went to buy something online – clothes, a movie, an app from an app store – and weren’t presented with customer reviews? The 5-star, optional comments rating system is ubiquitous online, from the web sites of traditional brick-and-mortar retailers to online-only giants like Amazon and eBay. Evaluating the crowd’s reaction to and appraisal of a product has become an important part of the shopping experience.
How has crowdsourcing influenced you or your business? Let us know in the comments or tweet us at @PGi!