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Crowd Sourcing-The Winning Edge For Your Business

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Yes, you are reading it right. It indeed is Crowdsourcing and not Outsourcing that can give your business the winning edge. Unfortunately, Crowd Sourcing, a term first coined by Jeff Howe in his article The Rise Of Crowd Sourcing is not as famous as its rhyming twin- Outsourcing.

Business-crowdsourcing

In it’s most crude form, Crowd sourcing is nothing but harnessing the power of Crowd. On a much formal note, Crowd sourcing bears the ideology "More the brains, more the Solutions"…OK, I made that up :).

But then, in all its context, that’s what Crowd sourcing is about and much more than that. We could always look for the perfect definition of Crowd Sourcing on Wikipedia. Oh, did I just mention the biggest and the best example of Crowd Sourcing. Yes, I just did, Wikipedia is indeed the best example of using the masses to create one of the biggest Knowledge repository that the world has come to terms with.

So, how does Crowd sourcing come to play when it comes to giving your business that winning edge. Come to think of it, Crowd sourcing has indeed become a business in itself. Here are some real world examples on how startups and businesses are efficiently utilizing Crowd sourcing to get that winning edge.

Innovation is the bottom line for any business. And what better way to innovate that actually meets the dynamic and constantly changing of your customer. To innovate and better yourself so that your product never fails to satisfy your customer, what better way to let the Customer define the Innovation that is needed. Sounds too good to be true.

Crowd Sourcing For Big Businesses

  • Dell’s IdeaStorm is as real as it gets when it comes to outsourcing virtually the ‘R’ of it R&D. IdeaStorm is their platform to collaborate with the Customer and let him decide what DELL should come up with next to make the product better. For those who love stats, out of the 12k ideas that the community has contributed, DELL has actually implemented over 365 ideas

But, DELL is big enough to allocate resources monitoring and moderating these communities.

How does the Crowd sourcing angle fit into the Small Business Space?

The Startup World has the answers. If you have been on twitter even for a few months and followed some folks from the Internet Start up space, the importance of Crowd sourcing for the Startups is multi fold.

Crowd Sourcing For Small and New Businesses


  • Need a logo and can’t afford to hire an expensive designer

    In comes, 99designs for the rescue. Just turn your design requirements into a contest and launch a project. And there you have hundreds of budding designers churning their best designs out for you. All for a minimum cost of 150$ odd. And given the popularity of the site, I doubt if quality gets compromised for the price


  • Crowdsourcing can help you get the beginner’s advantage by launching your product earlier then expected.

    May be its me, but I have seen a lot of startups launching their Alphas to the crowd unlike the Beta versions more prominent. This can be a little tricky if your product is a bit too buggy, but if you have faith in the product, there is no harm in letting it loose to the public (Crowds).
    Why? Because if you are solving a problem, the user might just be able to live with a few hiccups here and there. Moreover, he/she will be more than happy to help you identify those bugs since it is going to make his/her life easier.

  • If you are struggling to introduce that new feature which will enhance the end user experience or rather get you a totally new segment of customer base, you only need to listen/ask. Listen to the crowd talking about a product in your niche, absorb what is missing in the existing product and work on incorporating that in your product. That’s value addition at the cost of your competitor.

Barring the first bullet point, the last two have solely come out of my real time experiences of Crowd Sourcing at work at what has become one of the best Crowds sourcing platform a.k.a Twitter.

  1. Buzzom, a twitter management tool is an example of listening to your target customer and give them what they want. They have been instrumental in listening keenly to their target users and ensured that the user’s desires are met. They have used twitter to constantly improve and enhance the product they offer. And that has contributed to Buzzom making waves and making it big.
  2. Twitsnaps, a twitter based photo sharing site is another example of using Crowd sourcing to fill the loopholes in the existing product in their niche. They have kept the user at the helm of matters and the product innovation has been on a constant upside.

All said and done, there have been valid apprehensions of whether Crowd sourcing can be effective without the so called Incentives.

Even from its definition, there has to be something for the crowd to benefit from their contribution. In most of the leading business crowd sourcing platform, monetary rewards seem to be the best incentives to get the best from the crowds 

In fact, there was an interesting post about government using Crowdsourcing to reduce the electricity theft. The author raised a valid point by asking if the move had worked if not for the monetary reward for the contributors.

Interesting take on the viability of the idea of Crowd sourcing without Incentives.

Here are my two cents on why I think it is not necessarily a matter of monetary incentives, it however is to identify the kind of incentives needed.

When it comes to crowd sourcing, I think it is more a question of identifying what kind of incentive could work with the user. It need not be a monetary one at that.

Considering the above examples, crowdsourcing can dole out incentives in all its varying kinds and still get the best out of the community. And if the decision to crowd source is kept at bay for the lack of an incentive scheme, I doubt if it is a good decision. Solely for the fact that there is no way to determine what the customer/user considers a good incentive.

For its very definition, it is the crowd at play, so why not ask the crowd to decide the Incentives that will make them contribute.

What are your thoughts on the power of crowdsourcing. Do you believe that Crowd sourcing has the potential to provide a winning edge to your business?
Or do you think, it is not a worthy element to be an integral part of your business.

[This post is written by Ankit Agarwal, an ERP Consultant by profession, a wannabe entrepreneur and stock market stalker by passion]

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  4. Deep Sherchan says

    Hi,

    I represent InRev Systems and we are the owner of Buzzom.com .

    I am very thankful for your blog coverage of our service in your blog sometime back. Hence, I am writing to update some of the new offerings of Buzzom.

    We have released the lifetime offer for Buzzom Premium at $99 today. Since your blog talks about technology and social media and has a large

    readership, we were hoping you would want to cover this news. Buzzom Premium was launched a few
    months back and is already about to reach a thousand subscribers. Buzzom
    Premium is a complete solution for social media marketing campaign and
    is much more feature rich than any of its competitors.

    We really hope you would cover us in your blog.

    Please view our press release here.

    http://www.buzzom.com/blog/?p=678

    Regards

    Deep Sherchan

  5. Prashant Gangwal says

    Hi Ankit,

    Its a really nice article and reflects many of the points, I have been thinking for past some time. I am a fresh MBA passout and saw a lot of potential for this idea in college. Companies float competitive events on various themes and students participate in huge numbers just to win a few thousand bucks and more than that – building up resume. For instance, Viacom invited fresh ideas from B-schools last year to launch a new reality show on MTV. Coldplay last year launched their new album and invited videos for one of the songs – “Lost” from across the world. The prize money was a special ticket for their London show. Most of the sales and marketing companies float such events in B-schools looking for fresh ideas and absolutely free of cost.

    Prashant

  6. Sumit says

    with the world contemplating the future of outsourcing, crowd sourcing seems like a non threatning but an intreging idea.
    Literally speaking ain’t nothing new in this, think abt it this way, when DNA launched their news paper in mumbai, they had ppl riniging doorbells to ask readers what they wud like in their paper then they analysed the data and wen back ti the readers tell them the results, when the paper was launched it was hit cuz the readers were the ones who made it. Think abt this when nokia or any cell phone mfg compaby launches a new phone it asks its users what they want and sometimes even “outsource” this requirement stage.
    The diff with what our buddy anlit atalks abt is that this can done the “e” way and ya u need a dedicated team tracking tgis thinl abt competition and tge works, but if thot abt carefully his can be a gr8 revenue generator aswell

  7. Ankit says

    Hi Chanda,
    Glad to have u back around here..
    Thanks a lot for sharing the link, it was indeed insightful.I did search for some article exploring the other side of Crowdsourcing, but google did not lead me to urs:)
    Now, that i have.i do agree with your thoughts on numerous points.
    Anything to do with crowd is going to be double edged sword.Cos with more people, there wil always be more opinions and view points.
    The point i tried to make was that Crowdsourcing has not been tapped even for the so called harmless tasks that corporates could actually crowdsource.
    As far as the copyright infringemnet part is concernd , companies ought to know what they want to outsource.In the case of dell, they ask the customer what additional features they would like to see in DELL.However, if there is another rival stalking their blogs, he can grasp the customer desire, but then DELL belives they can do it faster than the rest, and hence the plunge

  8. Chanda | BizDharma.com says

    Hey I too covered something related to Wats Crowdsourcing some time back, but after that post I thought that as businesses we do need to be sure about the pitfalls of the same too, so my another post was regarding that. Since its an extension to where yo have left do read about the advantages and disadvantages of Crowdsourcing.
    http://bizdharma.com/blog/advantages-and-disadvantages-of-crowdsourcing/

  9. K N Ajit Narayan says

    Thanks for writing about TwitSnaps. Yes, in ways more than one, we have made use of crowd sourcing to build our product. It’s always an ongoing process, and we continue to take note of all suggestions made by our users. That has really helped us to create a “sticky” user base for our Twitter photoshare application. For us, every opinion is priceless.

  10. Ankit says

    @vinod Great initiative!!! Infact, being a non-profit organization could be detterent since u cannot offer monetary incentives…
    But if crowdsourcing is still working for u, it affirms my faith in the ideology that monetary incentives are not mandatory for crowdsourcing to work

  11. Ankit says

    @vincent Thanks a lot for the info!! Amazing what adobe is doing

    More so, a great product you have and the clientage has the best of the best.Need to check out the case studies at the site again

  12. vincent carbone says

    Another great example of this is what Adobe is doing at :
    ideas.acrobat.com and ideas.adobe.com

    these systems are provided by brightidea.com

  13. Ankit says

    @kitt Exactly my point!!! More so, when we are talking crowd, it could be 100’s of people.Each might have a different incentive to contribute..
    So, rather then people figuring out the incentives, it is better to leave that to the crowd itself.If the incentives asked are acceptable, good enough otherwise they could wait for others:D

  14. Vinod says

    Benefits of crowdsourcing multiply significantly when starting/running a non-profit. At United Prosperity (www.unitedprosperity.org), an online micro-finance platform we crowdsource heavily and it is certainly encouraging. In our case it is about crowdsourcing activities that are required to spread the word, be a champion to the cause and generate ideas on how to reach out to more entrepreneurs and more lenders. There is an inherent advantage with being a non-profit of course, but nevertheless, crowdsourcing is a very effective tool.

  15. Kitt says

    I think it is more a question of identifying what kind of incentive could work with the user. It need not be a monetary one at that.

  16. Ankit says

    @sharad
    Glad you got some info from this artilce.
    But i am afraid it aint easy and simple.In most of the cases it can be a double edged sword where you might gather more brickbats then praises.Moreover, for the traditional few, it is like exposing their organizational incompetence.So, it has to be treaded with caution.
    But yes, i second ur opinion on other fronts.The target audience is to be chosen very carefully which is in sync with the product’s niche.

  17. Sharad Harjai says

    Crowd sourcing… Well i just got to know the details … Seems as a quite simple and effective thing. And definitely it can provide winning edge to a business. But to use it effectively a person must use the right channel to broadcast.He must pick the target audience carefully.
    If one can manage some small points like you mentioned in the article, yes, Crowd sourcing can boost your business to a great extend.

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