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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How social technologies are extending the organisation

The following article is my view on the best bits from the McKinsey Global Institute fifth annual survey. Full report can be found on my SlideShare.

Companies are realising that social technologies are changing the way clients interact. As a result they no MUST incorporate these to enhance and exploit opportunities. There are both opportunities to improve internal process’s and also to explore new markets.

Seventy two percent of respondents are deploying at least one technology and more than 40  percent are now incorporating blogs and networking tools.

86 percent of companies are in high tech and telecommunications.

Rising adoption rates

Adoption of social technologies across industries

Executives at internally networked organisations note the highest improvement in benefits from interactions from employees; those at externally networked organisations from interactions with customer, partners and suppliers.

Another key performance measure, self reported operating-margin improvements, correlated positively with the reported percentage of employees whose use of social technologies was integrated into their day-to-day work.

Looking Ahead

Senior executives should think strategically about how social technologies can support business processes. Integrating social technologies into the workflow and using them to optimise internal processes will provide additional competitive benefits

  • Don’t rest on your laurels: competition will increase as the adoption of social tools and
    technologies continues to rise and as progressive companies use them to improve their
    processes. Indeed, many companies we categorized as networked organizations last year
    slipped to a lower rung this year as the benefits their executives reported fell. Integrating
    Web technologies into the daily workflow, our results suggest, is the most effective way
    to maintain competitive position or become more networked.
  • Companies should prepare for more substantial disruptions. Since many executives believe that significant changes will occur as (or if) constraints on social tools and technologies are lifted, companies that can create change themselves—instead of reacting to it—are likely to benefit the most.