Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Planning an innovative offering to be turn-key ready – 3: crowd sourcing and the permeabilization of corporate walls

Posted in startups, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on December 7, 2011

This is my third installment in a series on building and providing better products that will benefit customers and that will draw in their business, and that will benefit the providing business too (see Part 1: outlining the fundamental challenge and Part 2: taking a consumer and marketplace-driven perspective.)

I stated that I would turn to consider crowd sourcing in this posting. But I focus, at least for the purpose of this discussion on a side to crowd sourcing that is often overlooked – using crowd sourcing to mine for usability design insight.

• When a business crowd sources the design of tee shirts or other essentially single function items, usability per se does not enter into the conversation.
• When a business crowd sources something much more functionally diverse and complex such as software apps, usability becomes much more important.
• When that business is in effect eliciting software from the community to help it create new value for its in-house developed products or services, the core list of app functionality options can become relatively fixed as the request for ideas and for crowd sourced apps goes out to the community. Novel and unexpected app functionalities are only really likely to arise if someone in the crowd sees a novel and unexpected blue ocean strategy for what the business itself offers – a new and unexpected use and source of usability.
• With that, assuming that at least an essential set of core high priority functions are included in any given crowd sourcing offering, competition for best in the marketplace becomes essentially entirely a competition for usability per se.

And all of those design layouts and interfaces that are thrown into the crowd sourced tool become raw material for mapping out what real world consumers look for and want in the way of usable interfaces in effective products.

Most consumers and most businesses look to crowd sourcing as a route to expand functional options and capabilities, and with a focus on what the consumer would see value in and want to buy, own and use. Crowd sourcing offers just as much insight as to what the consumer considered usable, and for discerning their preferred interfaces and user experiences. And as noted above, this insight can become a marketable commodity that others would pay for and that they can build from, swapping in new functionality sets and new branding and labeling in the process.

This all becomes particularly important with tablet computers, and particularly with handhelds and their user interface compression, and particularly as users demand greater and greater amounts of functionality as they ubiquitously connect for more and more reasons.

What I am writing of here is a whole new way to create and leverage value from the crowd, and with a goal of creating and producing, and marketing a richer, more fulfilling user experience that is based on real world user feedback and insight – not just the limited scope of more traditional focus groups and their kind.

I am going to continue this discussion in my next series installment, looking at startups and early stage businesses and their offerings.

You can find this and related postings at Business Strategy and Operations – 2 and the first 200 postings in this general directory at Business Strategy and Operations. You can also find this series at Startups and Early Stage Businesses.

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