How To Gamify Your Business

The following article is by Liisa Atva and was published in the Huffington Post on the 7th April 2016. It features research by myself and Beedie School of Business colleagues Jan Kietzmann, Leyland Pitt, and Karen Robson, and Kirk Plangger at Kings College University.

I like reality TV, especially American Idol. I've heard the negative comments: "Reality TV rots people's brains" and "For many, reality television is the lowest form of entertainment, an insult to our collective intelligence." I don't agree. Not only do I enjoying watching contestants "sing for their lives," I'm learning business strategies while doing so.

Business strategy from a singing show? Despite its cancellation, there's no denying that American Idol has been a success: a 13-year run; 30 million viewers an episode at its peak; and its performance or results show the top ranking TV show in U.S. television for eight consecutive years.

According to media analyst Anthony DiClemente, American Idol, one of the most profitable shows in U.S. TV, was transformative for Fox Broadcasting, turning it into the leading TV network in the U.S.

What organization, in any industry, wouldn't want that kind of success? Perhaps by studying what American Idol did and applying similar techniques with its own customers or employees they can. The producers of American Idol took a talent search and turned it into a game for the contestants and, more importantly, transformed passive TV viewers into highly engaged ones with an active role to play.

Businesses have successfully used game-like experiences such as frequent flyer programs, reward cards and sales competitions to increase loyalty and engagement for some time. However, "gamification," the term for this process, did not emerge until around 2010. To clarify, gamification is not about creating games, but learning why games are so engaging and applying the psychology and behavior behind that to business processes - gamifying non-gaming situations.

American Idol, which began in 2002, was a successful pioneer of gamification long before the term was even coined. As a nationally broadcast TV show it had a platform with the potential to attract a wide following. Gamification has, however, become scalable for many other types of businesses.

The rise in gamification, according to Dr. Ian McCarthy, Associate Dean with Simon Fraser University's Beedie School of Business, can be attributed to several developments. First, the growth of the computer game industry has contributed to a better understanding of what motivates individuals to play and makes games successful. Secondly, the pervasiveness of social media, and web-based and mobile technologies has expanded the ways in which individuals and organizations can participate in an experience.

Gamification is successful when customers or employees continue to play and, as a result, the organization achieves its desired goal. Why is it successful for some organizations and not for others? A question a team of researchers from the Beedie School of Business that, in addition to McCarthy, includes faculty Jan Kietzmann, Leyland Pitt, and PhD students Karen Robson and Kirk Plangger is working to address. Borrowing from the work of game designers and researchers into what makes computer games engaging, the team developed a conceptual framework of the gamification process. They identified three principles that they tagged with the acronym MDE: the mechanics, the dynamics, and the emotions.

Gamification mechanics include the rules, the setting, the goals, and how players "win" or progress through the experience. The rules with respect to American Idol include how viewers can vote - via voice calls, SMS tests, or online; when they can vote - at the start of the show until two hours afterwards; and how often - as many times as they can within the two-hour voting window.

Dynamics are the player behaviors that emerge during the game, such as competing, cheating, bluffing, or bragging. Managers need to monitor the gamified experience to ensure that players remain engaged and are not breaking the rules - gaming the game. If the game is not perceived as fair this could put off other players and they may not continue to play. For example, with respect to American Idol, the producers reserved the right to remove "power dialers" that could unfairly influence the voting results.

If the mechanics and dynamics work player's emotions are triggered. Positive emotions, such as excitement, goal attainment, and extrinsic reinforcements such as money and status are powerful drivers of behavior. Negative emotions such as disappointment, and avoidance of such, can also be motivating. For gamification to succeed designers need to understand how to tap into these emotions. American Idol leveraged viewer's desires to see their favorites succeed resulting in emotions of happiness, relief or disappointment.

"If you get the MDE right then you get powerful games where people are motivated to spend lots of time and money engaging," said McCarthy.

Gamified experiences are rarely static and players may start to lose interest - I switched to The Voice a few seasons ago. Managers need to recognize when changes are needed to keep customers or employees engaged and excited. Over the years American Idol adapted to the challenge by adding new features; online voting, the fan save, songs selected by viewers, and hometown visits. Even despite manager's best efforts a game may lose it's usefulness or appeal. If you want to attract customers to a new game in the future you need to know when to pull the plug on the old one. Although American Idol's last show will air this week, it leaves behind a contribution to understanding the gamification of business processes.

To learn more, check out the following articles:

Robson, K., Plangger, K., Kietzmann, J.H., McCarthy I.P, and Pitt L.F. 2016. Game on: Engaging customers and employees through gamification. Business Horizons. 59 (1), 29–36.

Robson, K., Plangger, K., Kietzmann, J.H., McCarthy I.P, and Pitt L.F. 2015. Is it all a game? Understanding the principles of gamification. Business Horizons. 58, 411 - 420

The Encyclopedia of Social Media and Politics: Honeycomb Framework

The following posting is reproduced from the entry by Sónia Pedro Sebastião in the Encyclopedia of Social Media and Politics.

The honeycomb framework is a visual structure composed of several blocks in interdependence proposed by Jan Kietzmann, Kristopher Hermkens, Ian McCarthy, and Bruno Silvestre to help scholars and professionals understand how social media can be used as part of a communication strategy. This model emphasizes the functionality of Web social media, and may serve to understand the better way to include these instruments in a communication strategy showing comprehension with the ways that Web users use social media in their lives. The honeycomb framework presented by these scholars is based on the ideas of several bloggers, namely Stewart Butterfield, Peter Morville, and Gene Smith, who developed and combined ideas discussed by Matt Webb.

In nature, honeycomb cells in beehives are an example of geometric efficiency because the shape of the cells allows two opposing honeycomb layers to nest into each other, with each facet of the closed ends being shared by opposing cells. Applying this metaphor to Web social media and considering seven main attributes, Kietzmann,Hermkens, McCarthy, and Silvestre have defined functional blocks in interdependence. These blocks are:

·       Identity: Related to the information provided to identify users, and that reveals themselves or a constructed self. This self-disclosure may include data about sex, age, occupation, or preferences on a real or deceptive basis (to assure anonymity).

·       Conversations: Concerning the channels used to promote dialogue between users, that is, with means that allow talking in real or deferred time.

·       Sharing: Linked to the exchange, distribution, and reception of meaningful content by participants. Sharing may lead users to start conversations and establish relationships, depending on the functionality of the social media platform.

·       Presence: Related to ways of knowing who is available in the social media platform.

·       Relationships: Concerned with the information provided about the bonds that individuals form with each other (e.g., family and friends), through which they feel connected and exchange meaning.

·       Reputation: Related to the appreciation and trust of users to the social standing of participants and content, usually expressed in opinions.

·       Groups: Linked to the possibility that digital channels have to provide the creation of communities of users with common interests.

These functional building blocks are neither mutually exclusive nor present in all social media activity because they are constructs that show how different levels of social media functionality can be configured. The authors' proposition is motivated by the need to comprehend how citizens are consuming the Web and how its use is maturing, evolving, and changing through time thanks to the new communication landscape and broadening exposure to it.

Presently, a multiplicity of social media that differs in terms of scope and functionality may be found: Some are more massive, while others are more focused on a target, function, or purpose. This diversity may lead to reluctance or the inability to use social media in a strategic communication campaign and promote an effective engagement between the political actor and users (citizens or constituents). The honeycomb framework allows a systematic view of social media and illustrates the more suitable platforms according to the objectives of a communication campaign. It is a tool that serves several purposes; for example, it helps to define priorities, supports a modular approach to social media, and can serve as a looking glass, transforming how people see things and enabling new explorations.

The functionality of social media tools focuses on a combination of these blocks. For example, Facebook favors relationships, identity, and reputation, whereaschannels of video sharing (like YouTube or Vimeo) promote sharing and groupformation. Knowing the tools, their functionalities, reputations, and presence of the same users, organizations can define their communication strategies, which will depend on the market context.

We’re leaking, and everything’s fine: How and why companies deliberately leak secrets

“The evidence suggests that firms that leak secrets may be doing very well; it appears that some of the most prolific and careful leakers are also among the most profitable companies in the world” (Hannah et al. 2015)

A secret is something that is kept or meant to be kept unknown or unseen by others. We all have secrets and we have many different reasons for keeping them, but ultimately we do not want to face the consequences of having them exposed.

It’s not just individuals who have secrets. Companies also have and hold on to secrets. Competitors often seek to acquire secret information on recipes, formulas, production processes, pricing and marketing plans and anything else that provides a competitive advantage.

Why then would companies deliberately leak secrets? This question is the subject of a new paper, I have published in Business Horizons with Beedie School of Business colleagues Dave Hannah and Jan Kietzmann. Using reported examples of deliberate leaks from companies such as Apple, Enron, Toyota and Cadbury, we explore how and why companies deliberately leak their secrets. Our answer is it depends! Ultimately, a firm’s choice regarding whether or not to leak secrets involves weighing the risks of a leak against the potential returns.

To clarify the risks and returns of leaking we produce a classification (Figure 1) of four kinds of deliberate leaks (Dissembling, Misdirecting, Informing, and Provoking), based on the following two dimensions of leaks:

  1. the truthfulness of the information in the leak i.e., does the secret contain factual or concocted information
  2. the signaled intentionality of the leak i.e., is it an overt leak where the company admits it leaked the secret, or is it a covert leak where the company falsely claims the leak was a mistake or pretends not to know it has occurred.

Figure 1. A classification of deliberate leaks

Each type of leak is suited to different circumstances and brings both benefits and consequences. Our paper offers examples for each type and a decision making framework (Figure 2) to help managers determine when, whether or even how they should set about deliberately leaking information. 

Figure 2. A decision framework for why and how organizations should deliberately leak secrets

Although the framework does not eliminate the consequences of secrets leaking out, knowing what to expect can be helpful for companies. As we explain in the paper, our typology and framework offer managers a way to arrive at more informed decisions about whether or not to leak secrets. It also provides scholars with a descriptive and predictive basis to study the important organizational function of “having a leak”.

This posting is based on the research in the following article:

User innovation and 'emotional property' - How firms can appropriate consumer-generated intellectual property

The following posting was published by the Beedie School of BusinessIt features research by Beedie School of Business faculty Ian McCarthy, Jan Kietzmann and Leyland Pitt, and Pierre Berthon at Bentley University.
New research from Simon Fraser University’s Beedie School of Business reveals that though firms may be tempted to profit from consumer-created modifications to their intellectual property, this is not always advisable – and can in fact backfire.
The paper, CGIP: Managing Consumer-Generated Intellectual Property was co-authored by Beedie researchers Jan H. Kietzmann, Ian McCarthy, and Leyland Pitt, along with Pierre Berthon of Bentley University.
It was published in the Summer 2015 issue of California Management Review 
The study examines the phenomenon of “consumer-generated intellectual property” (CGIP), where consumers rather than firms innovate, modify, hack, or in some way alter an organization’s proprietary products or services.
The research addresses how firms should deal with this intellectual property their consumers create, and the dilemmas this presents for managers.
It argues that consumers’ intellectual property should not be leveraged at the expense of what the researchers call emotional property, defined as: “the emotional investment in or attachment to creations of the heart and mind.”
The study cites several real world examples, including that of Hollywood actor Vin Diesel, who was the first Facebook user to reach the million followers milestone.
It notes that this achievement undoubtedly contributed to the network’s growth, but that Diesel did not receive any compensation for doing so.
Instead, Facebook contacted him to remind him that all the content he had posted now belonged to them, as per their terms, and to inquire how he had achieved his success.
“Much of the value and intellectual property nowadays lies in information generated by customers, consumers, and users, rather than by firms themselves,” says Pitt.
“While a company can capture CGIP, it cannot appropriate or negate the emotional investment that consumers have in their creations.”
In choosing to appropriate CGIP, firms run the risk of financial loss or incurring damage to their reputation if not handled correctly.
In order to help firms manage this CGIP, the research integrates the different perspectives firms can hold into a diagnostic framework consisting of eight strategies.
The framework further categorizes the strategies within each stance ranging according to whether it is positive – cultivate, coordinate, cooperate, or capture – or negative – condone, condemn, crush, or copy.

Berthon, Pierre , Leyland F. Pitt, Jan Kietzmann, and Ian P. McCarthy (2015). CGIP: Managing Consumer Generated Intellectual Property, California Management Review. 57/4: 43-62 

How gamification can transform business processes

The following article by Liisa Atva  published in the Huffington Post on August 26. It features research by Beedie School of Business faculty Ian McCarthy, Jan Kietzmann and Leyland Pitt, current PhD student Karen Robson, and former PhD student Kirk Plangger.

Cheers erupt from the living room where half a dozen teenaged boys are gathered in front of the TV. “Yes! What a goal! That was sweet!” Poking my head in, I ask, “Did the Canucks just make the playoffs?” They laugh. “Mom, it’s NHL 15, a video game,” my son explains. Only a game, yet the energy, the excitement and the emotions are very real.
It’s not just teenagers that are playing. According to the Entertainment Software Association of Canada, the average age of Canadian gamers is 33 years old, and 54 per cent of Canadians surveyed admitted to having played a video or computer game in the past four weeks. There’s no doubt that the gaming industry is big business — a $2.3-billion industry in Canada alone — and the revenues can be astounding — Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 raked in $775 million in its first five days alone.
What organization, in any industry, wouldn’t want to generate that degree of devotion with its own customers or employees? Perhaps by studying what makes games so compelling, and applying those concepts, they can. “Gamification,” the term for this process emerged around 2010. Dr. Ian McCarthy, Associate Dean with Simon Fraser University’s Beedie School of Business explains, “It’s not about creating games, its about learning from the world of games, and the psychology and behavior that go in there and why they get such fantastic levels of engagement. It’s about gamifying, non-gaming situations and processes that happen in various industries.”
Businesses have successfully used game-like experiences to increase loyalty and engagement long before the term gamification was coined, for example, frequent flyer programs. However, the rapid rise of gamification, according to McCarthy, can be attributed to several factors: the quest to get a reaction, the pervasiveness of social media, web-based and mobile technologies, and the growth of the video game industry. The initial buzz was such that Brian Burke of Gartner Inc., an American information technology research and advisory firm, predicted that by 2015 forty per cent of Global 1000 organizations would use gamification to transform business processes.
There have been notable successes. One example, as described by McCarthy, was the marketing campaign for rapper Jay Z’s book Decoded. Advertising agency Droga5, in conjunction with Microsoft’s search engine Bing, turned the book launch into an online and on-the-street scavenger hunt. The players, Jay-Z fans, set out to find all 320 pages of Decoded, in various sizes, in unexpected places including at the bottom of a pool in Miami, on cheeseburger wrappers in one of Jay-Z’s favourite restaurants in New York city, and painted on a car parked on a street corner in his old neighbourhood. During the book launch Jay-Z’s Facebook friend base increased by over one million, Decoded spent 18 weeks on the New York Time’s best-seller list, and Bing’s search traffic increased by 12 per cent.
Initial predictions on the success of gamification, however, appear to have fallen short with Burke later stating, “We predict by 2014 eighty per cent of current gamified applications will fail to meet business objectives, primarily due to poor design.”
Burke remained optimistic, adding that in the longer term gamification would have a significant business impact. McCarthy suggests that for gamification to be more widely and successfully adopted by managers it needs to be broken down into simpler steps, and that to date there has been very little research in this regard. A team of researchers from the Beedie School, including McCarthy, aims to change that. One of the early stages of their research was to develop a conceptual framework of the gamification process. They identified three principles that they tagged with the acronym MDE: the mechanics, or set-up and rules; the dynamics, or player behaviour; and the emotions.
“If you get the MDE right then you get powerful games where people are motivated to spend lots of time and money engaging,” said McCarthy.
Next they focused on understanding and defining various types of players, and how to create engaging experiences for each type. For some the thrill of the game is in competing against other players; for others, learning new skills, achieving a personal best, socializing, or a mix of each. I asked my son why he plays NHL 15:
“To have fun with my friends,” he said.
“Do you ever play it on your own?”
“Yes, to get better by playing against the game.”
The attraction clearly more than just “fun.”
While The Beedie School research presents a useful framework and set of recommendations, it still needs to be tested and refined to show how it can be used successfully in various business processes. McCarthy sees the development of the framework as a foundation to build upon, not just for themselves, but also for others who might undertake similar research.
I’m in the minority of Canadians and not a gamer, yet when McCarthy concluded a recent talk on gamification with a game to test how well we’d paid attention, I sat up straight, all ears, finger poised above the answer tab on the just-installed app on my cellphone, eager to win five seconds of fame. It was not to be — now if only I’d had my in-house expert with me.
Also on the Beedie School research team are faculty Jan Kietzmann and Leyland Pitt, current PhD student Karen Robson, and former PhD student Kirk Plangger. McCarthy’s full presentation on gamification can be accessed here
Read the original article on the Huffington Post website

Is it all a game? Understanding the principles of gamification

The rapid emergence of gamification for improving how we engage people has seen some astounding successes in recent years – including innovative marketing campaigns for hip-hop moguls, airline frequent flyer programs, and sticker albums for global sporting events.

But what is gamification, and what can business do to leverage its potential? This was the subject of a lecture I gave at the 2015 Beedie Alumni Reunion. You can view the talk below and access and download the slides here.

The event, held at the Segal Graduate School on March 31, was an opportunity to present for the first time new research published in Business Horizons and Advances in Consumer Research. The research, conducted with Beedie faculty Leyland Pitt and Jan Kietzmann, Beedie PhD students Karen Robson, and Kirk Plangger, examines the effectiveness of gamification as a method of increasing engagement among stakeholders such as employees, customers, and students.

I explained how gamification, defined as “the application of game design principles in non-gaming contexts” (Robson et al 2015) is being used in business. The term “gamification” emerged around 2010, though the phenomenon has been used effectively in business for some time.

Gamification is not about creating games, it’s about learning how the world of gaming and related concepts in psychology and behavioral economics all combine to produce fantastic levels of engagement. It’s about gamifying non-gaming situations: processes that happen in various industries. How can we learn from that in order to understand and control the behavior of stakeholders?

During the talk I examined companies that had gamified certain processes such as training and recruitment in order to understand why they had done so. I also looked at the computer games industry, and so as to propose a framework for designing and management gamification experiences.

I described in detail several examples from popular culture of gamification being used to great effect as a marketing campaign. Jay Z’s book launch campaign in conjunction with Microsoft’s search engine Bing, for example, resulted in Jay Z receiving some one million new social media followers in the space of one month. An interactive Tippex commercial, meanwhile, saw sales rise by 30 percent for what is essentially a dying product. In each case, the key to the success was that the level of player engagement was extremely high.

The research reveals three reasons for the rise of gamification: the quest to attain high levels of intrinsic motivation in employees and consumers; the pervasiveness of technology; and the growth of the video game industry, valued at some $30 billion.

Consider for example, the levels of engagement attained by the popular video game Call of Duty. The most recent edition of the Call of Duty franchise racked up some $775 million in sales within its first five days of release – more than any Hollywood movie. Gamers have spent approximately 25 billion hours playing the franchise, or over 2.85 million years.

Such dedication is down to three intrinsic motivational factors: competency building, where the player attempts to master a task; autonomy, where the player can experiment and customize the experience; and relatedness, with the experience providing the player a sense of purpose.

The participants in a gamified experience fall into four categories: Designers, who design, manage and maintain the  experience; Players, who compete in the experience; Spectators, who witness the  experience but can also influence it; and Observers, whose role is solely to watch.

The framework I introduced can be used for understanding and designing gamified experiences. It consists of three principles: the mechanics, the set-up, rules and progression; the dynamics, or the player behavior; and the emotions, or the players’ state of mind. If you get the blend of dynamics, mechanics, and emotions right, then you will more likely produce an effective gamified experience where people are motivated to spend lots of time and money engaging.

To illustrate the overall gamified experience, I used the example of popular TV show American Idol, ranked the number one show in the US from 2003 to 2011. It uses gamification principles to engage spectators – the audience and TV viewers who influence the show – and the players – the potential artists are potential employees. The show is both an entertainment process and a talent recruitment process. If you consider the level of viewership, voting and related emotions in American Idol it is clear why it is a beacon of gamification. Imagine if we could engage students, voters, employees or customers the way the American Idol audience is engaged.

Be wary though, while gamification is an appealing tool, businesses must understand why it works. Rewards are not enough – it is the playing and the progress that makes the experience fun and pleasurable. And remember, it is not about designing a game per se; the goal is to gamify a business or public process.

This post was adapted from a contribution by the Beedie School of Business.

The ideas and frameworks are based on research presented in the following articles:

Robson, K., Plangger, K., Kietzmann, J., McCarthy, I., & Pitt, L.  Is it all a Game? Understanding the Principles of Gamification. Business Horizons (July, 2015)

Robson, K., Plangger, K., Kietzmann, J., McCarthy, I., & Pitt, L. (2014). Understanding Gamification of Consumer Experiences. Advances in Consumer Research, 42, 352-356

You can view and download the presentation related to this posting here:

Developing and leveraging crowd capital: A valuable resource for organizations both global and local

Typhoon Hagupit, the devastating typhoon that hit the Philippines this past December, was notable for its particular ferocity – marked by 27 deaths and over one million residents evacuated. In some coastal areas, over 80 percent of all homes in the typhoon’s path were destroyed. 

What leaves cause for hope in the aftermath of this tragic weather event was the innovative form of emergency response launched by the United Nations. While the Philippines was recovering from the devastation, the U.N. quickly deployed a crowdsourcing platform to provide humanitarian aid, respond to urgent needs, and assess infrastructure damage. 

Teaming up with the crowdsourcing platform Micro-Mappers, the U.N.’s Office for the Coordination of Human Affairs (OCHA) asked Twitter users to identify posts highlighting damage, emergencies and individuals in need of help, as well as tweeted photos showing the damage. From this people-sourced information, a crisis map comprised of accumulated information showed where emergence response was needed most.

This is a global example of an organization tapping into the power of the crowd to address a problem – this one being particularly acute. But more companies and government bodies, large and small, are also reaching out to their publics via crowdsourcing. The cash-strapped City of Baltimore, for example, is using crowdsourcing on its revamped website to get feedback from city residents about how they want the city to budget their collective taxpayer dollars. Coca-Cola Shanghai, meanwhile, is utilizing crowdsourcing to garner what AdAge described  as “impressionist market research” videos to describe what Coke tastes like – and ultimately deliver some creative marketing ideas for the company in China. 

The simple premise of crowdsourcing for business is the combination of crowds and outsourcing. The activity has seen significant growth in recent years because of the proliferation of the Internet, the uptake of mobile technologies, and the massive explosion of social media usage. That’s not to say that crowdsourcing doesn’t exist offline, but as the above examples illustrate, its biggest advances and growth stories are happening via the Internet. 

Crowdsourcing also represents a rather positive direction that is something new for crowds, which haven’t always been held in such high esteem. In 1895, the French sociologist Gustave Le Bon authored a book entitled The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind. In it, he warned of crowd psychology characterized by "impulsiveness, irritability, incapacity to reason, the absence of judgment of the critical spirit and the exaggeration of sentiments”, among other negative sentiments.  Over a century later, crowdsourcing reverses such wariness of crowds, recognizing important crowd traits that were ignored for too long – intelligence, creativity, innovation and enthusiasm. 

A new research paper I have with colleagues in the journal Business Horizons shows four different kinds of crowdsourcing. See Figure 1.

Figure 1. Four types of crowdsourcing (Prpić, Shukla, Kietzmann and McCarthy 2015)

Firstly, there is crowd-voting – think of online popularity contests, or reality TV shows like American Idol. The aggregate vote helps an organization come to a decision that is certainly democratic for voting stakeholders. Secondly, there is micro-task crowdsourcing – where an organization breaks a problem down into much smaller jobs to be completed by the crowd. Thirdly, there is idea crowdsourcing, which solicits creativity and new ideas from the crowd – whether they be t-shirt designs or movie trailers – helping organizations to leverage the diversity and innovativeness of their audiences. Finally, solution crowdsourcing invites real solutions to well-defined business problems. A good example is when video streaming service Netflix invited users to help improve the company’s predictive accuracy, a system that determines whether a particular viewer is going to enjoy a particular movie based on demographics, tastes and historical viewing habits. 

The key here is that various crowdsourcing approaches can be used for different goals, and can even be used in collaboration with one another. In sum, the answer to which approach to use is - it depends!

But how do organizations get started on this path to harnessing both the expertise and the opinions of their respective crowds? How do managers implement a top-down approach to getting bottom-up resources – gaining crowd capital in the process? To this end, our research proposes three key stages to gaining crowd capital: constructing the crowd, developing crowd capabilities, and harnessing crowd capital (see figure 2).

Figure 2 - Constructing and harnessing crowd capital (Prpić, Shukla, Kietzmann and McCarthy 2015)

For the first stage, constructing the crowd, it is vital that the primary purpose for crowd engagement is strategic and aligned with organizational goals. Once addressed, organizations can fine-tune their selection process: How big is the crowd? Where does it exist in the online or offline worlds? What are its characteristics or capabilities? What specific requirements or conditions should it fulfill? 

After deciding on the who of crowdsourcing, an organization needs to turn its attention to the how. Specifically, how does a firm acquire resources dispersed in a crowd, and how does it align crowd contributions with existing organizational operations and processes. Going back to the example of Hurricane Hagupit, the United Nations had to tap into the knowledge of online denizens while synching up their information with the know-how and operations already in place with its emergence response operations.

We know that successful organizations needs to be proficient in identifying and acquiring external resources. In a crowd context, this means they need to understand how to interact with crowds to draw out knowledge, and choosing an appropriate technology that facilitates this engagement. For Coca-Cola Shanghai, this was the crowdsourcing platform platform eYeka. For the city of Baltimore, it was a proper government website. 

The assimilation element in the crowd capital creation process lies in the organizations ability to analyse, interpret and understand the crowd contributions. That is, how does an organization digest all of this new information? This might involve tasking teams or individuals within the organization to curate the crowd contributions and ensure such contributions are on target. 

This leads to the harnessing crowd capital. Our research maintains that an organization’s own employees, for example, can serve as a filter for crowd contributions, while the crowd inversely can help make decisions based on an organization’s groundwork. What matters is that different types of crowdsourcing may be employed simultaneously or sequentially.

The sourcing of crowds to power organizations represents a remarkable milestone in the evolution of business and government. Crowd voting, micro-task crowdsourcing, idea crowdsourcing, and solution crowdsourcing are just a few crowdsourcing concepts that individual organizations are assigning to the many. 

Over 100 years ago, Le Bon was right about the power of the crowd – but was wrong in downplaying their helpfulness to organizations. By both understanding and utilizing crowd capital, organizations can evolve to become more accountable, sustainable, and responsible -- in certain cases even more profitable and efficient. Today’s organizations are wise to draw strength from numbers at this historic confluence of online technology and positive public engagement.

You can view and download a presentation related to this posting here: