Crowdcasting is the newest use of the crowd to change the paradigm of two important functions of business: innovation and customer relationship management.
Innovation is being moved from the realm of experts to the crowd via problem-solving platforms like Hero-X. Incentives include contests and other forms of interaction, including cash prices, and problems that range in complexity are presented to the group. This use of the crowd as a group of out-of-field experts has produced some innovative and quirky thinking on knotty problems. Unlike university and other expert-based methods of traditional problem solving, issues of intellectual property and royalties for this work are managed by participants trading off their ideas for a possible prize.
This type of crowdcasting works to find innovative solutions to both business problems and complex social problems. Businesses can bring a problem to the crowd, where groups of unusual and esoteric specialists can collaborate. Non-profits can bring the complexities of social change and social justice to individuals and groups who bring off-center and out of the box thinking to multi-faceted issues.
One of the benefits of the crowdcasting model is the open-source ethos of shared problem solving. With the understanding that unusual solutions can be shared across industries and communities, the ideas and work are regularly published for use by others, with their different problems to solve.
Businesses are managing customer relationships in a different way in the age of big data. Customer Relationship Management is both a strategy and a group of customer interfaces that collect data for analysis. Each time a customer interfaces with the business in any way, interactions are quantified and analyzed, with the hope that there is consistency across departments and so interactions can be monitored for compliance and best practices.
In addition, businesses are using crowdcasting to identify market trends. By identifying target markets and potential markets, companies can use the opinions and practices of a crowd to allow innovative ideas and marketing trends to develop organically. The previous practice was to allow a specialist to craft a marketing strategy, and then that strategy was tested by outcomes. The more agile practice is to allow the crowd to make choices, and then use that information to develop ideas about trends.
Crowdfunding campaigns have been using crowdcasting to identify and hone offerings in the marketplace. As an example, a company offers three options as a gift; by far the most popular gift chosen was in the color indigo-shibori. That information goes into the next planned product development.
Some companies are developing multiple prototypes, and rather than allowing experts to choose, offering the choice to the crowd before production. Using mailing lists and previous contributors to a campaign, as well as traditional customers, this crowdcasting practice can, in addition to allowing a target market to detail what they like, give a feeling to customers that they are participating in shaping the future of a company. That degree of loyalty and connection is critical, and difficult to manufacture.
Crowdsourcing workers or units of work is also growing exponentially, and platform-based freelance gigs are encompassing everything from graphic design to book publishing to dog walking to rocket design and algorithms. For many businesses, the focus on in-house experts has moved to statisticians, who know how to collect, manage, and use large amounts of data, while the traditional specialty workers, such as scientists and laboratory researchers, are being outsourced to the gig economy. Even in the public sector, universities and non-profits are counting on the smaller capital costs of gig workers rather than the engaged workforce of previous years, and using crowdsourcing to find these workers.
It’s hard to estimate if this trend will continue, as traditionally, the highly loyal and engaged workforce has been a strong predictor of a successful business venture. With the new paradigms, new measures of success will follow.
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