Friday, June 21, 2013

Provide a Platform for the Crowd to Become Your Company

Provide a Platform for the Crowd to Become Your Company:

Screen Shot 2013-06-21 at 5.00.13 AM

Above Image: Screenshot taken from keynote presentation on the Collaborative Economy.

I’m about to tell you that in the most advanced form of the collaborative economy, the crowd becomes the company.
For context, this post is the most advanced use case of the collaborative economy, and is only part of my ongoing coverage of this next phase of social business, read the definitive research report or peruse all the posts on the collaborative economy topic.  First, to restate the definition of this movement:

[The Collaborative Economy is an economic model where ownership and access are shared between people, startups, and corporations]

Disruption: The Crowd Is Already Replicating Company Functions

The collaborative economy, where people get what they want from each other –bypassing corporations –they can start to fund, ideate, design, develop, produce, distribute, market, sell and support products on their own. To see proof points, here’s a list of over 200 startups across various sectors, industries, and geographies.
Corporations Have Two Options: Fight or Adapt Movement

Like in social media, disrupted companies realized they must use the same social technologies to regain power.  Similarly, corporations have one of two options:  1) Fight this revolution through regulation or trying to avoid it, or 2) collaborate with this new economy and invite the crowd in and unlock new business value for all.  For the corporations that want to explore the section option, read on.
Adopt: Advanced Collaborative Economy –A Company Provides a Platform

In our research on the collaborative economy, the most advanced use case is when corporations allow customers to participate in core business functions.  We call this Provide a Platform (software, services, solutions), when companies enable a dedicated area for customers to join in.
The Rollout: How Corporations will Deploy This

In my analysis of this industry, we’re seeing business functions from every sector being taken on by the crowd.   They will do one of two options:  1) Partner with the startups that offering this, or 2) Use the enterprise software that’s available and host it on their own websites.   The below breakdown shows how it’s already emerging
Collaborating with the Crowd in many Business Functions

To bring this concept to life, here’s some examples of how it’s happening, with URLs to back it up, in a fragmented manner.

Business Function: 

Element of a company that can collaborate with crowd

Are disruptors and potential partners to corporations
Enterprise Software:

SW providers that enable corporations to self-host the experience
Brand Examples:

Who’s doing it now
Co-Employment Odesk, Taskrabbit for business, Crowdflower Manpower, Kelly Services, Robert Half Many companies are already tapping on demand work
Co-Ideation and Co-Design Quirkly Uservoice, Spigit, Crowdtap, potentially Adobe Creative Cloud Starbucks Ideas, NikeID product designer
Kickstarter Unknown Dodge Dart Registry
Co-Development and Production
Etsy, 3D Printers Industry Unknown Unknown
Deliv Google Shopping Express Walmart considered crowd delivery, but no movement sense
Lockitron Unknown RelayRide partnered with OnStar for instant inventory
Customers organically share in social channels today Extole, BuddyMedia by Salesforce, Wildfire Social marketing examples exist in great supply
Co-Sales In a limited way: LivingSocial, Groupon? Affiliate programs Reseller programs with verified partners already exist
Co-Support Customers do this informally now, often in social networks Get Satisfaction (who has been active on this topic) Lithium, Jive Social support examples exist in great supply
Co-Resell Marketplace Ebay, Craigslist, and many vertical specific, like Gazelle (electronics) While unproven, the following have potential features:  Oracle CX, Salesforce, IBM Social Business, Adobe Experienceand social commerce platform, Bazaarvoice Patagonia partnered with eBay on Common Threads, Scottevest points to eBay market
The process repeats
Caveat: There are other business functions, such as sharing revenue and IP that could also be extended to the crowd, this is only a small sample of what’s possible.

Challenges Await for all Parties

Rife with opposition, the road ahead will require a business transformation and with it, a series of challenges await.  Challenges over liability, IP ownership, revenue sharing, information security, and concerns over quality lay ahead.  Don’t assume that all startups will want to work with corporations, I interviewed Airbnb for this research, and asked the point blank if they would partner with hotels, and they made it clear, it’s not in their current roadmap.
Expect new Enterprise Software to Emerge

Expect many of the social business suite players will get wind of this space, and seek to build or acquire players in this space to assemble a suite. I’ve briefed a number of the smaller and larger software companies on this looming movement and informed them of the opportunities at hand. Expect for now, point players will continue to emerge, and eventually provide an opportunity for acquisition cycles, but for now, we’re just at market identification.
Conclusion: Soon, Customers and Employees Will be the Same

Corporations that adopt these methods and invite the crowd to be part of the company will benefit from a more efficient workforce, reduced costs, and tapping into loyal customers that will be with product ideation to delivery.  In this new model that’s quickly approaching, it will be difficult to tell the difference between customers and employees –as the ownership of core business functions are shared with customers.
In the imminent future, the crowd becomes the company.