The Future of Enterprise: How crowdsourcing is breaking the enterprise glass ceiling

Breaking the Enterprise Glass Ceiling

As we established in previous weeks, the world of enterprise is currently undergoing a technological revolution that will transform the way business as we know it, is conducted. This is the third of an eight-part blog series examining the changes that will drastically alter the corporate landscape in the next five years.

What’s Changing?

As buzzwords go, crowdsourcing may not yet be as popular as social media or mobile apps, but it’s one of the fastest growing developments in major enterprise today. For those unfamiliar with the concept, crowdsourcing is a new work process that essentially involves getting a crowd of people to help with a task that would typically be performed by one employee or contractor in a traditional business model. Problem solving, design, testing, support and raising funds are just a few of the ways next-generation enterprises are driving efficiencies by adopting this approach into their operating procedures.

Now evident in sectors from government to health research, crowdsourcing represents a seismic shift in the world of employee innovation?one with large economic and ethical implications. While it is still very early days for this approach, evidence is mounting that there can indeed be a direct competitive advantage to using crowdsourcing strategically, no matter what your business is.

A Day At The Office...

Like many aspects of digital business, crowdsourcing is a foreign concept to most non-Internet businesses?and a strange one at that. However, management teams are starting to ask employees to be more vocal in terms of idea and knowledge sharing, and connecting people with decisions to be made with those who hold the answers. Traditional business models involves a lot of top-down thinking and decision making, but forward-thinking companies are realizing that innovation and cost saving ideas can easily come from the front lines of the business when employees are given the opportunity to speak candidly.

In order to be a successful next generation enterprise, you should (and inevitably, you must) carefully pilot crowdsourcing approaches and technologies, cultivate competencies in the techniques, and begin applying them in your organization whenever and wherever it makes sense for your operation.

An Early Adopter

Every day, organizations are tackling new opportunities and solving new issues. ATB Financial set up the Emerge Group in late 2011, with a mandate to grow and celebrate transformational innovation across the business. James Gamage, Managing Director of Innovation at ATB Financial Emerge, sees crowdsourcing this way:

“One of the promises of social technology in all of its forms was that it would make our lives not just more social, but better,” Gamage says. “And that potential is at the heart of our crowdsourcing. Whether we do it inside or outside the business, or both, we do it to gather ideas, refine them, connect them to others and create an engaged community and a culture of innovation in the process.”

And Gamage says there is value in that community.

“Internationally, there are already successful examples of using crowds to back small business, set up peer-to-peer loans and community and social credit models,” Gamage says. “We are looking closely at the role that ATB can play in forming and learning from these crowds, all with an eye to making what we do make life better for our customers.”