Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Will “The Crowd” Drive Tomorrow’s Business?


Pebble Watch had a great idea. Build a watch that would directly interface with Android technology thus allowing you to search the internet directly from your watch. Pretty cool, but no one wanted to fund it. They turned to a Crowd Funding site called Kickstarter. They had a modest goal to raise $100,000. Instead they raised over $10,000,000. Take a look at the Kickstarter page for Pebble Watch. Just looking at that $10,000,000 number and the 69,000 people who sent them money boggles the mind. And the other amazing thing: Not a single one of these 69,000 investors got any part of the company. What did they get: a watch.

Goldcorp had a problem. They owned a gold mine but none of the geologists could find the gold. As a last ditch effort they turned to the concept of Crowd Sourcing. Crowd sourcing (as opposed to Crowd Funding) is where you put a challenge out into the broad public and see if anyone out there has a great idea. They created The Goldcorp Challenge to tap into the crowd-source to identify likely veins of gold on one of its properties. The challenge was won by a graphics company! Who would have thunk?

Crowd Funding and Crowd Sourcing are radical new approaches to traditional ways of doing business. It is a “democratization” of the process (so to speak) and speaks volumes about the way business is changing.

To me, these two processes are a perfect example of how business is enabled by the giant leaps in technology that make the world so much more accessible. A small company with 5 guys (or gals) and a dog can access capital and ideas in ways they never could before. And all 5 of the guys can live anywhere they want to. (Presumably the dog still has to live with one of the guys – but that may be changing too).

What will the company of the future look like? Ideas such as crowdsourcing and crowdfunding are freeing companies from the traditional boundries for doing business. Companies – and the people that run them – are going to be more and more like loose partnerships where groups of people come together for (whatever) self-motivation they have. And because we can so easily participate in a wide range of activities from the convenience of our home computers, many of us will work on several things at once.

Whoohoo. Soon pajamas will be the new attire for Casual Friday (all week long)!

What will this mean for HR? I'll talk about that in my next blog post.