Thursday, 27 February 2014

The Power of Crowdsourcing

The concept of crowdsourcing has evolved so much in such a short time that it is hard to believe that it has come into focus just a few years ago. For the common man, breathing, living & interacting in physical as well as virtual worlds, crowdsourcing would not be so obvious. However, the common man (yes that same Aam Aadmi of today) stands to gain crowdsourcing benefits that may turn his digital & physical world upside down. What is this crowdsourcing you ask? Let us share our insights with you.
No, crowdsourcing is not a marketing gimmick & it is certainly not a jaw-dropping innovation (well, the term crowdsourcing may be innovative). Actually, subtle crowdsourcing has been going on for decades through surveys, feedbacks & suggestion boxes. Remember, that large area reserved on each survey form, with the heading ‘Your Suggestions’; or that Suggestion Box present in lobbies, waiting areas reminding you of your own mailbox? That, my dear reader, is crowdsourcing. It was just never used as openly as today. Ad-hoc crowdsourcing is becoming the new mantra of today & it has the power to take at least some shine off of those marketing experts, designers & business analysts. has defined the concept of crowdsourcing as distributed problem solving (  Basic premise is to get a large group of people to work on a specific problem. Sounds familiar, Indians? Let me ask you a question, what is the democracy? Isn’t it a variation of crowdsourcing? I believe democracy is only 20% crowdsourcing. In democracy, leaders elected by public define the problem & attempt to find a solution or it. In the purest form of crowdsoucing, a problem is defined by crowd & solutions are also driven by crowd’s contributions. This approach of crowdsourcing brings tremendous power with itself. For services, it could be great tool to improve processes, pin-point pain areas & redesign processes. However, crowdsourcing really proves a game changer when it comes to product development, irrespective of whether it’s a purely software product or an embedded product. When it comes to identifying the needs & designing innovative solutions for cater to those needs, what is better than soliciting the very crowd for which the product is being developed?
It is to be noted that crowdsourcing is not always about deciding features of product or getting artistics designs from the crowd, it has many more aspects.
There are many types of crowdsourcing, as discussed by,(, viz., Crowdsource Design, Crowdfunding, Microtasks, Open Innovations, Pros & Cons. In Crowdsource Design type of crowdsourcing, you source your designs from the crowd. The designs may be for logo, furniture, user interface, fashion items etc. In Crowdfunding, you can ask public for donations to meet your funding needs. Microtasks is a method in which you can divide your project in small tasks & then source each task from a crowd of people. If you do not have a clear idea about what to crowdsource, you can opt for open innovations, in which you can solicit ideas for all aspects of business. Through Pros & Cons method, you can have a handle on market reaction of your product as crowd lists pros & cons of your product for you.     
Now let us see some examples of crowdsourcing. If we were to create a comprehensive list, it would take at least a few days & still we won’t be able to give it justice. Let us wrap up our discussion by noting a few examples. Anheuser-Busch (AB) has used crowdsourcing to fine-tune the tastes of its famous brand Budweiser. Another popular example would be Ideasproject initiative from Nokia, which draws on consumer-experiences of participant-innovators to generate new ideas about the kind of products they seek from Nokia. Nokia shares revenues generated  from crowdsourced ideas with Ideasproject participants. The biggest example of crowdsourcing that I can quote is Wikipedia, which practically runs its site by using the crowd’s knowledge, providing a massive tribute to crowdsourcing.

Most industry experts believe that crowdsourcing is here to stay.  They say that companies will rely on crowdsourcing more & more to fine-tune their products to actual market demands. The power of crowd to innovate & to provide efficient solutions to various business problems is tremendous & with continuous advancements in communication technology, it would be surprising if we don’t see a significant growth in crowdsourcing within a few years. 

Power of Building Communities with Similar Interests

It has long been said that there is a power in unity. How can companies leverage this concept in business perspective? Logical thinking suggests that in business, communities could be of    employees or customers. However, it still remains unclear as to exactly how these communities would benefit a company or brand. Along with that, let us also see exactly how these communities are beneficial for its members, the employees & customers having similar interests.
Firstly, let us learn more about various aspects of these common-interest communities. Communities of people with common interest are typically called as ‘Common-Interest Communities (CICs)’ or ‘Common-Interest Developments (CIDs) or Communities of Interests (COIs). For our purposes, a community of interest is a group of people having common interests, common passions or common goals. These communities could be formed formally (a formal list) or a community could be formed on an ad-hoc basis. Generally the members of a formal & well structured community would get more benefits since the commitment of community members is continuous & fixed.
There are many benefits that would accrue to the common-interest community members. Since the members of a community are usually from the same domain, they can extensively share their knowledge, experiences & pool their skills. This gives a great platform where community members can share knowledge.  In the communities of employees, technical, business-related, company-related expertise can be shared. Live sharing of practical knowledge can improve productivity & competency of community members to a great extent. In case of customer communities, product or service related information can be shared between the community members. This can enhance the perceptual value of a product for a customer. A customer may get to know the hidden features of a product or he may learn new uses of a product by sharing knowledge with fellow community members.
Another benefit to the community members is the sense of belonging. Human beings normally take pride through the association. Hence, when they are involved in communities along with a group of people having similar interests, the members will get a great deal of satisfaction through association with such community. This would be true for both types of communities, customer communities as well as employee communities.
One more benefit that community members would get is the collaborative problem solving. Employees can solve their work-related problems very efficiently if they approach the community having similar technical skills as a common interest. Customers in customer communities can also do quick & easy troubleshooting of their product/service-related problems if a community is created for customers using similar products or services.
By taking initiatives in formulation & maintenance of these communities, companies stand to gain many benefits. First of all, they would get personalized info about their customers & employees. It is not always possible to get personal info about customers. As these communities develop, companies will automatically get more information about their customers as the customers will voluntarily share information. Next advantage accrued to the company would be the ability to group the customers having similar likes & passions.  Companies would get deeper understanding of the customer’s behavior, interests & preferences.
Lastly, since these communities are built through the company, customer’s loyalty to brand or company tend to increase. That is the reason why more & more companies are taking the initiative to create common-interest communities of their customers & employees.

Birdvision's Human Resource Manual, Ver. 1.0

Another small feather in Birdvision's ever growing collection! Necessity & applicability of HR rules in today’s ultra modern organizations have come under the microscope like never before.  We at Birdvision believe that rules, if carefully & collaboratively crafted, do not become a burden on the resources. Instead, such rules actually guide us in our day-to-day activities so that the organization can function like a well oiled machine. Case in point here is our HR Manual, solidifying our belief that rules are not always binding, instead they can become positive reinforcements if crafted carefully & implemented correctly.  The pace at which Birdvision is going, it was necessary to have some solid base framework in place as we continue to soar in the skies with lightening speed.

As a merry consequence, we launched our own Human Resource Manual, Version 1.0 on Tuesday, 25th February 2014, via a small ceremony. We are proud to say that our HR dept. has taken every possible effort to make it comprehensive, guiding, while attending to almost every employee suggestion. This is certainly a milestone in our continuous efforts to take our culture of structured collaboration to new levels.