Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Outsourcing to the masses (update)

By Hugh Jordan. Wise mob. Barely a day goes by without a website, campaign or competition cropping up, promising to harness the collective wisdom of crowds – the likes of you and me – for the benefit of brands. brand-e spoke to Francesco D’Orazio, md of crowdsourcing and co-creation specialists Face Wired to get the skinny.Firstly, for those who have been living under a rock this summer, what exactly do we mean by crowdsourcing? Well, there are a number of definitions and, depending on your speciality, it may vary slightly. Essentially, it’s when a company broadcasts a problem to a crowd instead of getting one or two experts to work on solutions. It’s outsourcing to the masses - the key elements for most forms of crowdsourcing are bottom-up idea generation and peer-2-peer validation. What are the benefits to brands in going down this route? It’s a very productive way of using crowds. Crowdsourcing, in one form or another, has been around for about 15 years, but with social media, brands have found a way of harnessing crowd creativity on a much larger scale. And there is huge value for brands in this method. They get a global, diversified crowd, a wider range of talent, rich spontaneous insights - plus it’s cost effective, and it provides great word-of-mouth for the brand. Sounds like a marketing director’s dream. Are there no drawbacks? Crowdsourcing by itself is a bit limited, you need a top-down approach to counteract it – there has to be some way to funnel the data and ideas generated. Plus, crowdsourcing tends to be more of a vertical process, there is essentially a lack of collaboration - the best solutions come when people are allowed and encouraged to build on each other’s ideas. Also, because crowdsourcing is not targeted, brands cannot afford to give too much away about company strategy, meaning briefs can be somewhat limited in detail.
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