This one is coming a close second on the week’s selection of webcasts, and indeed may be a nose ahead of Lithium’s. Two noses, in the long term.
For all the hype (and the variety), practical crowdsourcing is usually implemented in two bits: a «suggestions» website that is essentially a specialised forum where people (the target will vary) can post ideas or questions, and other people can comment, rate, critizise… and an internal, organizational process to handle those suggestions, to moderate the conversations, act on the ideas, vet the proposals, react and signal that reaction. On top of that, you can get all sorts of variations (and indeed you do, I can attest) and use cases. But that’s the common thread.
So it’s been very very nice to land on an «old» (November ’08) Salesforce.com-sponsored event recording (called «Harnessing the power of online communities», for good measure) at which two of the most effective and practical large-scale crowdsourcing initiatives share their vision and tell their experience, warts and all. If it pops someone’s bubble, so much the better: these tools are just tools, and you can either use them right (and work a little magic) or misuse them (and shoot your foot off).
I just loved the practical angle of the presentations. Dell’s Vida Killian and Starbucks’s Mathew Guiste make it clear and down-to-earth, which comes from direct, hands-on experience. Of course, much of that enthusiasm is because I agree with their takeaways, from my experience managing suggestions storms (or dedicated suggestions forums) inside more general communities. But also, because it highlights the differences between the two environments. A bit more focus can help a lot, both to the people you’re inviting to speak up… and to your team, who need to take up the results and run with them. And yes, some software functionalities can be handy.
Go ahead and listen in, and I don’t think you will waste your time. Once quickly past the software design issues (and it’s really a very simple idea, with literally dozens of vendors crowding the market with copycats) both speakers explain the business drivers, the project development, the social media strategy context, the changes and processes created to support crowdsourcing, the results. And the Q&A part is gravy, too.
OK, so Dell’s customers suggested they copy some of the features of Apple’s laptops: that’s stills a market insight that helped them drive sales. The fun part is how they got to act about it. And for those listening between the lines, there’s a wealth of things to dwell on about the overlap of traditional community and this facet of social media… and how to improve both.