In the year 2010, Travis Kalanick sent a seemingly ordinary tweet. Ryan Graves replied with his email address. Graves later became the first employee of Uber, and later named the CEO of the company. In some ways, the world had drastically changed in this exchange.
With the internet dispensation, people are closer to one another than was previously imaginable. The story of Travis Kalanick and Ryan Graves shows how we can utilize the global community to accomplish just about anything. Its potential is inexhaustible. Ideas for new inventions, startup funding, and instant feedback can be sourced from the networks that surround us. These ideas and interactions fuel real change, faster than ever.
The Potential of Connectivity
In today's real-life global village, we’re rendered access to millions of bits information that can spark ideation and creativity before our eyes. Connective and electrical infrastructure has simplified everything and contracted the experience of the whole world into a forum with common access. This is the foundation of crowdsourcing and open innovation.
According to Wikipedia, crowdsourcing is a specific sourcing model in which individuals or organizations use contributions from Internet users to obtain needed services or ideas. Let me put it in simple English: crowdsourcing is the inquiry of ideas, feedback, services, help or any useful tools from people available on the internet. In other words, you’re using people with their tomes of unique knowledge, skills, and lived experiences as the source of content for your agenda. The greatest treasures in this world are and will always be ideas in the minds of people when harnessed properly.
The Internet has streamlined this process at an exponential rate, simply interconnecting the world's population. You’re free to contact almost anyone on the planet, to make inquiries, and seek the help and interest of those whose needs are aligned with yours.
Crowdsourcing Creates its Own Significance
Crowdsourcing doesn’t always work as easy as it sounds. One needs to offer incentives to suppliers of the content, or solutions, for it to work. This comes in diverse ways including monetary awards, certificates, recognitions, medals or even featuring an individual on a popular website. The global community cannot just offer information; you have to get it through some creative strategies. In our current world of search engine optimization, crowdsourcing comes even more relevant. Assuming that one decides to write a crowdsourced article for example, according to Emma Perrot, by tapping into the intelligence of a larger group of content creators, you can produce a much richer piece of content with authorities within the topic you are writing about. This will probably lead to contributors to also share the article to their social platform.
As a result, this creates more traction for the platform. Therefore, as much as SEO can boost crowdsourcing platforms, crowdsourcing itself can help achieve an effective SEO process. There is a symbiotic benefit between the two. Crowdsourcing enables organizations to accumulate massive banks of data from which they can sift through and choose the best which apply to their needs. They can put up an open call for contributors on a project, where writers, designers, developers, evaluators and the like my offer their services for free or at a fee.
The HeroX Example
HeroX claims that it empowers anyone to create breakthroughs in their company, their community or the world. It is through this platform where I once participated in a challenge called “Patterns for Success” where the company which created the challenge was looking for content developers to compile relevant information on what strategies small business owners must possess to succeed.
This resulted in the accumulation of data, from which they had to choose the best of the best and compile a book to help small business owners. HeroX is a platform where users can create a challenge for sourcing content from the public. As such, they end up having enormous and diverse type of data from which they can easily choose the best. That’s the power of crowdsourcing at its finest. Where it could have been difficult for an individual or an organization to source such kind of data, they rather get it from the comfort of their homes/offices. When the global community gets involved in the process of creation, it makes it easier for the people to accept the innovations being built.
Why? Because such innovations are built using ideas and input from the end users of the product. This gives them a sense of ownership. Ultimately, people will only use a product if it solves their problem or meets their needs. Therefore, the best way to be certain they will use it is to involve them in the process. When Starbucks was founded by Zev Siegl, Jerry Baldwin & Gordon Bowker in 1971, they probably had no idea how that in 2008 a revolutionary strategy for building the relevance of the brand will be launched. Through the leadership of Howard Schultz, Starbucks launched a crowdsourcing platform called “My Starbucks Idea” which turned into a large open innovation platform with ideas which greatly improved their company. Since customers are involved in the process of development, they find it very easy to be satisfied with their products.
A crowdsourced writer on digit.hbs puts this even in a much better perspective by writing that Starbucks creates value for customers by allowing them to voice their ideas and help create a better coffee house experience. Consumers often feel like their individual opinions don’t matter when dealing with a large organization. With My Starbucks Idea, customers feel like their voice is being heard and that they can make an impact on the future of the organization, whether it is new products, the in-store experience, or the company’s involvement in the community. Wikipedia, yet another crowdsourcing platform. But what relevance does it have to the global community? Well, it offers the easiest way of collecting and compiling data without having to go through the tedious process of researching. Anyone can get into the platform and edit or add information. It could probably take months to compile information about all the important people and issue which may be of particular importance to people.
Yet anybody who possess some hands on knowledge can make changes on this platform. It gives power to the people. This also ensures that all the information in the world should always remain current and relevant to the public. It is this very method that Facebook uses to get Facebook into different other languages. They run a crowdsourcing campaign within the Facebook system where natives of a nation can suggest words in their vernacular language to be added on the platform. This helps the community to have the advantage of having Facebook in their local language. Such kind of an open innovation will in future explode into so many faculties of development. People will give ideas and build API systems in the comfort of their homes, and build something that can actually disrupt the whole world.
Is that all we can benefit from crowdsourcing? I wouldn’t think so!
We probably can’t outline all its advantages. Crowdsourcing has made it easy for individuals, organizations and companies to easily access funding as well offer funds. Crowdsourcing is where you source from the crowd content and skills for a project. Where ask crowdfunding is where investors, idealist and inventors/ innovators meet. Ideas and innovations get funded to be scaled up or implemented. Kickstarter is an example of such platforms where you can have a comprehensive view of diverse innovations and choose which ones to fund.
Search Optimization and the Crowd
Certainly, open platforms as these are leading to an outburst of innovations which are further pushed forward through crowdfunds. It wouldn’t wrong therefore to deduce that crowdsourcing has significantly added value to social economic development. However, there are so many crowdsourcing platforms that are booming, to remain relevant and get to the potential community force it’s not an easy task. Yet with the technology of Search Engine Optimization and Social networks; that is never a tedious work. Interlocking SEO and Social networking should give any crowdsourcing platform a lift. Search Engine Optimization simply refers to the process of getting traffic from the “free,” “organic,” “editorial” or “natural” search results on Search Engines.
The most popular search engines are Google, Yahoo and Bing. What this means therefore is that a programmer works on a web system to make the platforms highly ranked on the Search Engine. He does this by adding relevant words to the code of a web page. As such, when a person searches a word or a phrase inline what the website offers, the Search Engine attracts such a platform onto the users’ search results. Nonetheless, it’s possible to pay for the Search Engine to enable such platforms to be trending on the Search Engine. So basically there an organic ranking that is done by the Search Engine by targeting relevant words and then there’s paid ranking that is enhanced by special code from the Search Engines.
This means that crowdsourcing platforms can pay, for example, Google AdSense to have their platforms highly ranked. High search rankings increase the number of web visitors to a website, resulting in increased brand awareness. Every page on a website should contain text that attracts visitors and search engines. Search engines are designed to return the best matches for a specific query, that’s why crowdsourcing for content and ideas is necessary. Crowdsourcing is effective when more people are aware of the available platforms. So the best way is to sponsor them on Search Engines. With the outburst of social networking platform such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, Ads targeting a specific community of people can be created to achieve just that. There’s unlimited potential in crowdsourcing. Any individual or organization can run a crowdsourcing campaign to achieve their organizational goals most effectively and less costly. We’re living in a global village and it’s quite interesting to exist in such an era where we can solicit the best in anything and work on a virtual platform to achieve things together. I look forward to the time where Co-founders will meet on a virtual platform and build a great innovation on the same platform. HeroX may just be the place for such a historical scene to happen