Tag Archives: Challenges

‘Be A Mind Blower’ Crowdsource Competition

HENDERSON, Nev., Nov. 5 /PRNewswire/ -- Zyxio, the pioneer in next-generation
Human Media Interaction, announced today the launch of its "Be A Mind Blower"
online competition, allowing the public to submit their most innovative and
creative ideas for product development in a variety of categories, utilizing
Zyxio's new patented breath-enabled technology SensaWaft(TM).  The five most
ingenious applicants will be selected by the public to sit on the company's
special "Mind Blowing Advisory Board" for a six month period to assist with
the development of the new products.  They will also receive $6,000 and an
all-expense paid three day trip to Las Vegas. 

Imagine breathing out to flick through icons.  Or, think of exhaling and swap
gears in your favorite video game, hands busy on the controller.  With
SensaWaft(TM) technology, this soon could be a possibility.  "Be A Mind
Blower" gives anyone 16-years-old and older and legally authorized to work in
the United States a chance to be involved in advising Zyxio on the development
of its next breath-enabled project.  Applicants simply submit an idea online
in the following categories: PC/laptops/netbooks,
games/multimedia/entertainment, assistive/multimodal/virtual reality,
smartphones/in-vehicle/enterprise and digital music/graphic design.  

Additionally, anyone is eligible to enter as a judge to rate submissions on a
5-point scale from "Are you out of your mind?!" (one point) to "Genius, I Say
Yes!" (five points).  Submissions with the most points at the end of the six
week competition will win.  "Be A Mind Blower" has extended judging to the
public to allow those who may not have their own ideas to participate in the
process and believes that the best ideas should be decided by the public at
large, not a small group of corporate executives.  All judges are
automatically entered into a sweepstakes with the chance to win a Samsung
Go(TM) netbook or a Motorola Droid(TM) Phone.  Two of each product will be
given away at the end of the competition.  

"We believe that involving users in the development process of our future
products is of utmost importance as they will be the ones incorporating our
unique touchless technology into their everyday lives," says Pierre Bonnat
co-founder, Zyxio. "The scope of applications for our intuitive technology is
limitless, and we are turning to the public, rather than a focus group or test
panel, to give us direction by electing the most innovated and useful ideas.
Our job then is to tailor the technology to fit their choices."

After the initial five week submission period ending on November 30, 2009,
applicants will be narrowed to the top 25.  The finalists will have the
ability to promote their ideas utilizing blogs, videos and social networks
within the "Be a Mind Blower" Web site.  The five winners will then be
selected according to their points score. 

Through this competition Zyxio is introducing an incomparable proprietary
technology called SensaWaft(TM), an intuitive solution that senses and
analyzes when one intentionally breathes to interact. It was developed based
on human interactional behavior, and utilizes the untapped potential of the
kinetic energy of breath to control digital screens.

"Be a Mind Blower" competition runs from November 5th, 2009 at 12.00 pm PST to
December 13th, 2009 at 11.59 p.m. PST.

The Scary Economics of Crowdsourcing

Sourced with compliments from: http://www.ebizq.net/blogs/connectedweb/2009/11/the_scary_economics_of_crowdso.php

One of the emerging phenomena associated with Web 2.0 — and one of the themes of the Enterprise 2.0 conference, which I’m here in San Francisco to attend today and tomorrow — is the notion of ‘crowdsourcing’. This is the use of the Web to find people to complete work projects through an open competitive auction process. Dion Hinchcliffe had a long post on its relevance to enterprise here on ebizQ a few weeks ago and as I read through and explored some of the links I started to find it all rather scary:

“… idea generation, design work, execution of business processes, testing services, and even customer support. All of these can now be connected, often programmatically, directly to a company’s supply chain … most companies have ready access to crowdsourcing across a wide set of functional areas, to the extent that it’s often the easiest thing for them to try before going the more expensive outsourcing route.”

What I found scary was the massive commoditization and deflation of costs that these crowdsourcing options were enabling. It’s now possible to go out and find brilliant designers working from Asia who will deliver high-quality creative work for a fraction of the price you’d pay your local design shop. Electronics manufacturers and games developers can tap the skills of teenagers as crowdsourced part-time helpdesk advisers. The systems are now sophisticated enough to make sure everyone gets paid a market rate for the work they put in, but those market rates are lowered by the global and fragmented scale of competition, in which anyone with the skills and available time can offer their services.

Wired magazine recently carried an article about a company that is harnessing crowdsourcing with automation and intelligent algorithms to build a multi-million dollar business. The Answer Factory: Fast, Disposable, and Profitable as Hell has some very scary passages, such as:

“That’s not to say there isn’t any room for humans in Demand’s process. They just aren’t worth very much … It’s the online equivalent of day laborers waiting in front of Home Depot … Nearly every freelancer scrambles to load their assignment queue with titles they can produce quickly and with the least amount of effort — because pay for individual stories is so lousy, only a high-speed, high-volume approach will work. The average writer earns $15 per article for pieces that top out at a few hundred words, and the average filmmaker about $20 per clip, paid weekly via PayPal.”

If this is the future of work, it’s going to ruin quite a few people’s careers, even while it makes others. I don’t think it’s stoppable, and it’s going to be a scary ride.

How to crowdsource

Sourced with compliments from http://www.computerweekly.com/Articles/2009/10/30/238362/media140-opportunities-challenges-and-benefits-of-social.htm

Crowdsourcing simply means asking people that you might not otherwise be able to reach for opinions, ideas, or help through some form of social media. It has possible internal applications for asking an entire, geographically dispersed company something.

The challenges could involve issues around intellectual property. If you are asking for ideas that are actually worth money, doing it such a public way could backfire. And once the exercise is up and running, there will almost certainly be issues around managing the information or ideas you receive.

A recent crowdsourcing exercise for a marketing campaign for Unilever got 1,200 decent responses – it’s then someone’s job to pick the best.

Social media is certainly low in financial cost, but you must be aware of the time costs, which can be relatively high if you are really going to do it well. Plus, you have got to make sure you think carefully about whether this technology is going to work for a particular task or brief.

Crowdsourcing may transform the “brainstorming” part of your project, but it won’t change the fact that once you have a great idea, you are going to need the same skills and investment to put it into practice.

What kind of brief works? One example floated at Media140 was car manufacturer BMW, which wanted a customer relationship management (CRM) system for managing a database of customers that the company wants to engage with in the long term.

Just because applications of social media have so far related to marketing, advertising or sales, doesn’t mean there aren’t hundreds of possibilities in other parts of the business. The important thing is to keep it simple, at least at first, and be clear about what you want to do.

Do’s

  • Be honest. Especially about mistakes. People will see through you anyway, so don’t misinform. Dell is a good example to follow here – when it got things wrong, it owned up, changed the way it did things and is now often upheld as an example of good practice.
  • Only contribute when you have something to say. Don’t go wading into conversations or harassing people – you wouldn’t do it in the real world, so don’t do it on Twitter or an internal network. Many of the rules of engaging in real-world conversation apply to online conversations.
  • Target people properly. Make sure you are providing relevant information to the right people. You have to work out what will benefit the people you want to engage with.

Don’ts

  • Don’t try to be something you’re not. One delegate at Media140 asked how you should approach social media if you’re already hugely unpopular – a bank, perhaps, or a certain brand of politician.
  • Lloyd Davis, founder of Tuttle, said there’s no faking it. “You have to change who you are, not just the perception of who you are.”
  • Dont forget to find some way to measure your success. You need to justify what you are doing – to do this, you need to be crystal clear about what you’re trying to achieve.
  • Don’t patronise (or try to rip off) customers or even employees. Social media provides a way for these people to talk to each other, and as such, puts a bit more power in their hands.
  • Don’t expect overnight success, unless you happen to be Oprah Winfrey. It takes time to build up trust, and it has to be done subtly.
  • Don’t undervalue the skills it takes to get this right, or the benefits the company could achieve from getting it right. Some companies are hiring third parties to engage for them, but there’s potentially a role for in-house skills in managing this kind of engagement
  • Don’t forget that social networks weren’t invented for companies – they were invented for people, and it is individuals who have flocked to and embraced them. The challenge for business is to work out where it fits.

Control

Some companies love to control things, but if your company is one of these, it’s time to relax a little. Your employees and your customers have always been able to say negative things about you – but now they can do it on the internet, and perhaps they’ll have a few more people listening. There is of course a danger than employees will misrepresent your brand online, but there’s a danger that they’ll do this every day anyway. Word of mouth is not a new concept.

There are different ways to approach this particular challenge. Drinks company Innocent and online clothing retailer Asos.com both spoke at Media140 and outlined different approaches.

James Hart, e-commerce director at Asos.com, encourages staff to add the brand name to their usernames and talk about what they are doing at work on their Twitter or Facebook pages, instead of just talking to their friends. He said,

“We have 55 people on Twitter. I trust them and I see what they say because I follow them. We like to be where our customers are, and we adapt to the environment. I’m not really sure what to do with the official account. People search for Asos so we need something, but we dont really push products at them. I just want to talk to and learn from them.”

In comparison, Ted Hunt, digital communications manager at Innocent, said his company has the one official account. Innocent isn’t strict over internet communication – it doesnt delete comments on its blog, unless they have swearing in them. Negative comments stay up, and the company encourages interaction. But Hunt says it is simply easier to manage one Twitter account than lots of them.

“We keep it as a single Innocent drinks account. Otherwise it fragments too much and it is hard to control the message. It is easier to get a message out in one go. But we don’t moderate strictly. In two years we have removed six comments on our blogs. Negative comments stay up. We take down swearing because children come to the website.”

A company can take whichever approach feels most suitable, but the key thing to remember is that you are not going to catch everything in your net. There are plenty of companies around if you do want to monitor what’s being said about a particular business, but ultimately trust is likely to get you further than draconian rules and spying.

Commitment

You cannot just turn up on Twitter and tick off “social media” on the to-do list. It requires a bit of work and effort before tangible results are seen. Social media may not seem like the most important priority in a recession, but taking the time to understand it and know the basics could be a good idea.

Take Dominos Pizza, it was landed in deep PR-trouble after two employees uploaded a video onto YouTube showing them doing horrible things with people’s food. It got 600,000 views and the damage to the company’s reputation could have been untold. Dominos took 48 hours to respond – which was criticised at the time for being too long – but when it did, it was effective.

Its response video has now had one million views, beating the first one, but what was important was that it chose the same medium to communicate with people instead of releasing a dry press release.

If a business knows the basics, understands a bit about how this technology works, it will be in a better position to respond effectively if an employee or disgruntled customer manages to get it in trouble. Some level of commitment is required by all.

For those who really want to get it right, training employees in what’s appropriate and what can work is a good first step. John Beasley, head of brand at Red Bull, which is relying increasingly on social media for its marketing, said at Media140 that long-term commitment is the only thing that will get it to work. The first thing the company did was create a presence online using MySpace, Facebook and Twitter.

He says, “But we had to develop that though and use content. We found consumers wanted short bits of content that needed to be refreshed constantly. We also created lots of different points for consumers to discover us through.”

Listen

Corporate arrogance is not what people are after. If there are complaints, it is good practice to acknowledge them. And if you manage to solve the problems people talk about, you will be hailed as a hero (it might be by only one person, but that’s better than none).

One example aired at Media140 was Comcast. TheUS internet service provider responded to a tweet from Techcrunch editor Michael Arrington complaining about the company, and sorted out the issues he was having. The result was free positive publicity in a blog post that went out to Arrington’s three million readers.