Whether you like it or not we are all contributors and users of crowdsourced data on a daily basis. Examples are all around us, whether it’s: voting on TV talent shows; product ratings on Amazon; or traffic on Google Maps; or mobile phone coverage maps collated by RootMetrics from user supplied data. Whilst the first two are relatively simple survey based approaches, the second two approaches are technology enabled approaches that use the crowd to provide a more accurate and often a real time or near realtime picture.
As individuals, we are all to a greater or lesser extent increasingly trusting of the information and probably don’t even consider where the underpinning data has come from and probably wouldn’t think of it as crowdsourcing.
Whilst we accept it as individuals, to date, many companies have been more resistant to adoption of crowdsourcing-based approaches to disrupt more traditional survey based approaches to gain insight. When the benefits are potentially obvious to us as individuals why is there often resistance from businesses?
- Lack of understanding – many of the decision makers aren’t natural digital natives and are more comfortable with more traditional mechanisms. They worry about what if it goes wrong and it’s not unusual to hear comments like ‘we already have a discussion forum’ or ‘we already do an annual survey’
- Lack of confidence – decision makers often worry about outlying risks such as: what if it there is a lack of take up; and, what if we don’t like what the crowd tells us?
- Lack of trust – there is often a concern on what if people abuse the opportunity or use it to showboat an issue?
Whilst all of the above issues, as examples, are valid, neither are they insurmountable. With a focus on careful design and communication, solutions can be developed which then has the ability to unlock significant value for companies whether, as a few examples, in terms of:
- insight and co-development of new products or services
- customer/client feedback
- employee engagement
Whilst I wouldn’t offer up crowdsourcing as a one size fits all solutions, there are increasingly, benefits from listening to the crowd to answer questions and then using technology to speed up the chain from insight capture to analysis to action. Such approaches can help move from a regular but infrequent dip check to a more frequent closed loop insight.