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Crowdsourcing: Utilizing The Power Of The Many In Research



By Ray Poynter

Crowdsourcing has been gathering fans ever since Don Tapscott’s book Wikinomics stormed the business books bestselling lists in 2006 and 2007. The breadth of companies utilizing crowdsourcing has been growing steadily, as have reports of its successes. Although there are some uses of crowdsourcing within market research, much of the most interesting work is being done in other fields, which opens up an exciting opportunity for market research to learn and adapt from successful models in other sectors.

And, market research?

At one level, market research has always used some level of crowdsourcing. The traditional focus group, for example, has often been used to crowdsource ideation and the evaluation of products. Even surveys rest on an assumption that ideas can be tested by exposing them to a cross-section of people, rather than be relying on the views of experts. However, the range of new forms and uses of crowdsourcing that are appearing, in an ever wider range of situations and businesses, suggests that there is much more that research could do.

The growth of interest in, and the use of, insight communities, from community panels to MROCS, is an overt utilization of crowdsourcing. One of the key reasons that brands are adopting communities is that they want to engage in co-creation with their customers, recognizing that the brand does not have a monopoly of wisdom and that there are good commercial reasons for creating ongoing conversations with customers.

Learning from non-research crowdsourcing practitioners

In order to help market researchers hear about the ups and downs of crowdsourcing from people with real, non-research, experience, I am chairing a panel discussion at this year’s MRS Conference in London, 19th March. The speakers are:

The panel describe how they are: creating a sharing economy, attracting funding for start-ups, organizing volunteer transcribers, and challenging the large advertising agencies. The aim in selecting non-research examples is to ensure that the researchers in the audience have the opportunity to look outside the box to envisage what they could be utilizing in the future.

Want to read more?

To provide some background on the four speakers and the session at the MRS Conference, five PDFs have been created and uploaded here so you can access them  Click to read them:

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