Capitalising on the Crowd – Collective Intelligence

Social technologies are increasing the ability of companies to tap into the distributed knowledge and expertise of individuals located inside and outside the formal boundaries of the enterprise. Applying this knowledge can deliver tangible benefits in developing new products and services, sharing best practices,
distributing work in new, innovative ways and predicting future events. In a recent study by IBM, Collective Intelligence, they highlight a number of approaches for applying Collective Intelligence, how organizations can determine and select the appropriate audiences for these efforts, and how they can address the common risks and challenges of this emerging capability.

We live in an increasingly social world, where advancements in technology are changing how we buy, how we work and how we connect with others. Expanding and overlapping social networks are enabling individuals to express opinions, share expertise with a greater audience and shape decision-making processes on a global scale. Can an organization that chooses to ignore the insights of employees, customers and business partners expect to thrive?

1. Collective Intelligence can enhance business outcomes by improving how organizations access the untapped knowledge and experience of their networks to:
• Discover and share new ideas
• Augment skills and distribute workload
• Improve forecasting effectiveness.
2. Central to the success of Collective Intelligence initiatives is the ability to target and motivate the right participants, considering the need for:
• Knowledge – contextual awareness of the problem to be solved
• Diversity – sufficient breadth of experience to bring a range of
perspectives and views
• Disruption – willingness to challenge current thinking.
3. Key study findings indicate that successful Collective Intelligence efforts need to:
• Address sources of resistance, including operational challenges, conflict with existing charters, perceived loss of control, and shifting roles and responsibilities
• Integrate Collective Intelligence into the work environment, both technologically, and culturally
• Act on what is discovered, communicating value and outcomes to both the organization and the individual.

Collective Intelligence is a powerful resource for creating top-line growth, driving efficiency, improving quality and excellence, and building a better employee climate. Organizations considering adding Collective Intelligence as a business capability need to ask themselves the following questions:
• What are our strategic business objectives, and what types of insight can help us compete or differentiate ourselves in the market?
• Considering the audiences we may want to involve in a Collective Intelligence project, how can we motivate them to share their insights with the organization?
• How do we capture knowledge and connect individuals in new and cost-effective ways?
• What technology tools do we need to support this capability, and who is best positioned to help us take advantage of these tools?

Regardless of the approach taken to infusing Collective Intelligence into the fabric of an organization, it represents a new approach and opportunity for companies to create value using the experiences and insights of vast numbers of people around the world.

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Posted May 1, 2012 by Ben Martin - Social_Ben in category Smarter Planet, Social Media

About the Author

I am a gadget man, a film lover, Husband and proud father and not least proud to be an IBM'er. Currently working across the UKI to create better connections with clients through the use of Social Media. Please feel free to contact me if I can help I will. (my opinions are of course - my own)

  • http://www.stopthinksocial.com/ David Christopher

    This is a GREAT GREAT post Ben!

    Collective Intelligence inside an organisation is highly under-rated and even ignored in many, but is without doubt the best asset a company has.

    I often use the term Open Collaboration (which is a form of collective intelligence) when needing to deliver a project or define a new business process by putting a shout out to my internal social network for volunteers, looking for active participants and passive contributors to the project. The advantage of this type of approach is:

    – people involved in the project team have the right skill sets
    – those that the project impacts choose to get involved to ensure it aligns to their own processes
    – contribution and input is higher as they WANT to be part of the project
    - there is more shared ownership and responsibility for delivery
    – adoption of delivery is more readily accepted by the various lines of business due to inclusion throughout
    – the delivery is often better than first expected due to the “wisdom of the crowd”

    Collective Intelligence is my favourite subject and is at the heart of what it means for employees to “be social” in the workplace. Without it a business cannot be a true a Social Business.

    • http://www.benmartin.pro Ben Martin – Social_Ben

      Thank you for your comments David.

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