What in the world does it mean to “crowd-source” business functions? Apple creates collaborative online environments where users can contribute ideas and refine the iPhone, as well as Apple’s support processes. Procter and Gamble applied the same concept to their line of detergents and assembled an interactive forum in which their customers could help shape the quality of the product. And even cooler is Dell’s “Idea Storm” in which customers are provided the platform to share ideas and user experiences wth the company and peers to collectively improve Dell’s products. Essentially its a moderated Wiki and Dell does a fair job of not suppressing critique.
Barry Libert describes this concept and application in his book, We Are Smarter Than Me and of course his web site offers those same cool 2.0 technologies for collaboration and community-building. If you are interested in a primer on the subject, I suggest James Surowieki’s The Wisdom of Crowds. In it, he makes a compelling case for the power of the aggregate insight of crowds and communities over the expertise of individuals, even our most respected experts.
And if you take that bait, you’ll definitely enjoy an open dialogue between Surowieki and Malcolm Gladwell on Slate. Enjoy!