If 2011 was the year of the “Social Enterprise”, then 2012 -2015 will be the years recognized for Crowd-Based Business (CBB).
The “Social Enterprise” is being touted as the next big thing… the new way to do business, a social way to do business. But the next “big thing” in collaboration is crowds, not social. Social is only a new method of connecting and discovering information, social does not enable and guide action. Business is about delivering results, and for that you need a crowd!
A crowd as “a network that drives an outcome, task or goal” has business value. Understanding how crowds can add value to your business and also ensuring your business does not get disintermediated (the removal of intermediaries in a supply chain) by a crowd-based business will be the biggest challenges your enterprise faces over the next few years.
Intuitively, you know engagement is the key differentiator in a social network. Unless you get them someone engaged, attracting and keeping their attention is a fleeting effort for your business. A new corollary to Metcalfe’s Law, called the Crowd Corollary, shows that the value of a crowd increases dramatically faster than the value of a social network. This corollary has profound implications for businesses. It is the power of the crowd that not only allows you to make better business decisions, but also makes it possible to get more distributed and collaborative work done faster. Why? Because crowds have natural alignment (by definition) and social networks do not.
The business challenge for 2012 and beyond is to figure out when and where to use crowds. How can they be a paradigm-shifting differentiator that allows you to beat your competition? Businesses will need to learn how to reorganize and take advantage of crowds before their competitors use a crowd to disintermediate them.