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Expert accessibility - unleashing the wisdom of the crowds

The internet age has unleashed a massive force that is accelerating innovation, it is facilitating a most potent human behaviour... that of community and it is no surprise FinExtra has moved to address this trend.

Online communities, just like offline communities, develop their identity, brand and 'being' with precursors like the Slashdot community bringing into common parlance the term 'slashdotted' and as such influence behaviour and culture. Of late, being 'dugg' is yet another.

Meanwhile Facebookers started by bringing grad/postgrads together and now posture their brand against MySpace. They are fuelling the debate of transparency already within corporate USA. Elsewhere the debate turns to the business of community which can highlight competitive themes such as crowd envy.

Beyond the machinations of technology and freedom, people are discovering a new tool at their disposal - the wisdom of crowds. Crowds are an important metaphor that until recently have provided too much complexity and lack of focus to interact with in detail. We generally, colloquially, consider 'crowds' to be diverse and off-message with our own needs when seeking access to intelligence they contain. Furthermore, knowledge or what some call know-how can be daunting for the inexperienced and isolated however the rules of engagement are changing driven by the manner in which community is now facilitated by services across the online world.

In the digital society traditional barriers have disappeared - we are now able to communicate with a crowd whose focus has been automatically optimised by the participants themselves. Allowing people to select that which appeals to their attention provides automated segmentation on a preferential basis augmenting attention span. Everyone wins!

That's a rather dramatic thought for the service businesses who trade expertise - if one has access to a pool of external experts then competitive intelligence begins to drive transparency that can undermine traditional business methods.

For example LinkedIn is one of the few sites that has not over-stepped the mark of privacy while nurturing a productive community that satisfies its users - it has grown in a predictable and easy manner that has allowed many users to take the time to learn and appreciate the benefits of simplicity, there are no forums or blogs - what does exist is a mechanism for the community to add value through expertise requests via asking questions that one posts in their Q&A section of the website. Those that 'quake' will provide an answer. 'Quake' is a term initially derived from quakers 'quaking' during a round-table debate however in this context it means people motivated for various reasons - which includes an aspect of self-interest. The answers are diverse but the crowd is 'so' focused that it's rather astonishing to witness the responses and discover other thinking - the 'wisdom of the crowds'.

This also has a knock-on effect of taking heed of Seth Godin's advice regarding having the right conversations. As transparency drives truth to the forefront it is sites like LinkedIn that facilitate the discovery of subject matter experts using a community / conversation model that repudiates with a degree of authenticity that is difficult to question.

With technology underpinning this behaviour it has been the technology-savant that have already begun to profit from first mover advantages through the introduction of tools and processes that facilitate 'community' strategies and tactics in today's physical and virtual ecosystem.

This area has become known as social enterprise architecture - it can gather new meta-data that decision makers have already begun to weave into their reporting systems, developing new KPIs and a greater clarity of vision.

Of course it's going to be interesting to see how much our city friends take to this level of transparency, I wonder how many city CEOs blog, internally or externally, the way Jonathan Schwartz does?


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Ed Daniel

Ed Daniel

Senior Consultant, getting old you know ;-)

Member since

05 Jul 2007



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