Crowd Sourcing or Surfing

Crowd sourcing explained

There’s a good chance you’ve already been part of a crowd-something – especially if you’ve used a service like KickStarter (Crowd-Funding) or GroupOn (Crowd-Discount-Buying). I recently had the pleasure of chatting to Priti Ambani from CSW, we talked about where Crowd Sourcing is today and where it’s going.

crowd sourcing surfing

1. How would you explain crowd sourcing in one sentence?

Crowd sourcing is harnessing collaboration for problem-solving, innovation, efficiency and finance, based on loose and open networks of both amateurs and professionals, powered by digital technologies, social media, web 2.0 applications or even analogue communications.

2. What are the best examples of crowd sourcing today?

Crowd sourcing is not new. What is new is our understanding of it and its possibilities in tackling some of our most core global problems. It can be as simple as bringing together the right people in a room to brainstorm ideas or as complicated as pooling resources from hundreds of thousands of people online with access to the latest technological advances. For example, Seoul has taken some concrete steps to project the city as the sharing capital of Asia by promoting policies, infrastructure and start-ups that support collaborative consumption and solutions. Brands like Pepsi, Coca-Cola, Doritos among others have successfully used crowd sourcing for creative ads. There are scores of examples there. Open Ideo is all about collaborative thinking and design for greater good. Cisco’s I-prize invites innovative business ideas that the company supports and funds. “I paid a bribe”, crowd-sources information on corrupt practices in India. All of these examples have clear goals which leads to successful campaigns and participation.

3. There have been many previous crowd sourcing failures, what’s different now?

You have a question or a problem and you have a community of users willing to provide solutions – you put your problem out there and suddenly you have solutions to choose from. It may seem simple enough at first, but if you as the facilitator are not clear about what’s going on, or the opportunity for manipulation, it can easily become a problem. Crowd sourcing can be scary and catastrophic if not thought out. It’s not just another marketing tactic, it’s a deep engagement strategy that can bring a win-win proposition to the organizers and the crowds. The biggest change we are seeing is the mindset. Over the last few years leaders have understood that crowd sourcing has to be built into the DNA of organizations. So they’re building their communities through continued social media interactions while prodding brand advocates to create something and find solutions. We call this social productivity – a practice that elevates everyday social media engagement into something useful. This is the biggest change we are finding in campaigns that is driving success.

4. How can traditional (offline) businesses take advantage of crowd sourcing?

Crowd sourcing is all about continued interactions with your community, but it doesn’t need to be built digitally. It can be built through traditional methods as well. A great example would be just inviting your customers for brainstorming or a classic fundraiser. I have seen communities come together to build or repair common facilities or solve problems with collaboration. The key is still the same – develop your community.

5. (Mr Tapscott) Wikinomics, almost suggests that everything should be crowd-sourced, where do you feel crowd sourcing should be applied to first?

I think crowd sourcing should be applied within organizations themselves first. Most times, businesses are blinded by the external potential of crowd sourcing that they forget to look within their organizations. Successful crowd centric solutions needs to be built from within, so a great place to start, iron out your strategy, thinking and policy is within your own setup.

6. Where do you see the future of crowd sourcing going?

That’s a tough question. We recently produced a Twitter chat, #crowdchat where we invited reputed brand strategist and a thought leader in the space – Sean Moffitt to lay down his vision for the 2014 and beyond. Sean identified 5 industries globally, most positioned for transformation via crowd sourcing. They are: 5) Education, 4) Healthcare, 3) Tech / Hardware, 2) Art & Design, and 1) Finance. Really, this question is probably best answered through crowd sourcing! Which is why we’re (CSW in partnership with Wikibrands) currently running a survey to help gauge where the community thinks crowd sourcing is headed. Survey respondents will automatically receive a 10% off registration coupon for CSW Global 2014 in Singapore.

7. What will you be covering in the upcoming CSW Global Singapore?

For one week, April 7-11, we would like innovators and business leaders from across the world to converge in Singapore to exchange the best ideas and practices related to crowd sourcing and crowd-funding. Our overarching theme is, “Crowd Impact: Empowering Transformation,” the conference will explore the diverse ways crowd sourcing and crowd funding are catalyzing a transformative shift across finance, business, marketing, government, and more. It’s designed to encourage multi-disciplinary learning by example. Each day will highlight case studies, solutions and lessons learned while bringing together perspectives from a wide range of sectors.

8. Who should be there?

Anyone that finds their curiosity sparked by Crowd Sourcing or practices Crowd Sourcing principles at work. The program will inspire new ideas, insights, and help develop skills to quickly bridge and embrace these new approaches.

9. Finally, if there was a crowd sourcing secret sauce, what would it be?

The base of the sauce would be your crowd! There is no crowd sourcing without a crowd so community development is essential. The other key ingredient is leadership. If you, as an manger have to go through pains to convince your leadership on the benefits of crowd sourcing, it is a mute point. That‘s why crowd sourcing Week is here, we are an umbrella platform that helps leaders take the plunge and lay the seeds for innovation within their organizations.

Priti Ambani is the Global Media Director at Crowd Sourcing Week, a thought leader and prominent writer on social enterprises, start-ups and web 2.0 businesses. She is a Professional Engineer and holds a Master’s degree in Biological Resources Engineering from the University of Maryland, College Park. Priti lives in the Washington DC Metro area with her husband and sons, is a lover of the outdoors, travelling and from-scratch cooking!