Using the global brain.

Silent Crowds by Tochis on Flickr

Silent Crowds by Tochis on Flickr

Crowdsourcing is a radical thought in today’s world. If you have a business problem, instead of solving it internally as you would traditionally you just open it up and ask the world.

A typical crowd sourcing project would involve distributing a huge task over a massive network, with no limit to the number of potential contributors, with the work itself broken into small discrete tasks.

In his book Crowdsourcing: How the Power of the Crowd is Driving the Future of Business, Wired Journalist Jeff Howe who first coined the phrase reveals that “the crowd is more than wise — it’s talented, creative and stunningly productive. Crowdsourcing activates the transformative power of today’s technology, liberating the latent potential within us all. It’s a perfect meritocracy, where age, gender, race, education and job history no longer matter, where the quality of work is all that counts and every field is open to people of every imaginable background. If you can perform the service, design the product or solve the problem, you’ve got the job” quoted from WIRED.

On Thursday I attended the media announcement of the first IdeaBounty reward. The job was for First National Bank and was in answer to a brief to find a way to change the perceptions of South Africans in FNB’s Premier Banking Segment and get them to adopt Online Banking.

Billed as a crowdsourcing project the IdeaBounty is in fact not so in the true sense of the word as it is really an ideas competition with one winner instead of an ongoing use of the crowd.  None the less it is still a very interesting and innovative use of the Internet to solve a business problem. There are benefits for both sides, clients get access to hundreds maybe thousands of creative brains at an extremely cost effective rate. Creatives are also able to sell an idea without having to execute it and a steady stream of opportunities to showcase their work in a protected environment where their work is safe from plundering.

Crowdsourcing is likely to be something that more and more companies turn to tap into talent which exists out of the organisation, after all most of the best brains are working for someone else.

Another and not totally dissimilar group named Add!ct Creative Lab has a large database of people of a whole range of creative disciplines, such as poets, writers, artists and chefs from around the world and deploys them into solving creative problems. Add!ct Lab is based in Belgium but its leader @JanVanMol lives in Johannesburg.

From a branding point of view this is a bit of a coup for FNB as it establishes them as innovators. It is also significant that the first IdeaBounty project was commissioned by a bank as it gives the project some credibility to other organisations considering using crowdsourcing, and should accelerate adoption. Its also significant that the winning idea came from Europe demonstrating how easy it is that South Africa business can tap into international talent.

Crowdsourcing will be a common place tool in the future, I am looking forward to see how it grows from this start.

Congratulations @followandyh who led the project at FNB, and the Quirk team for starting us on the journey.

Posted on December 21, 2008 at 9:32 am by Walter Pike · Permalink
In: Uncategorized · Tagged with: , , , ,
  • Matt Riley

    Hi Walter,
    Really appreciate the mention and words of support. The new Levi's brief is continuing to draw new users (over 1100 now) and the Ideas are flowing in steadily.
    Matt at

  • nifty options tips

    Very Good Site and awesome writing too , and great thanks to the writer