The term crowdsourcing is an extended version of the proverb “the more, the merrier.” The idea of soliciting ideas, services, or information from a large pool of people has been there for quite some time. Traditional companies function within their closed boundaries with few people in the chair making a decision based on what they think would be good for the company. However, the more customer-centric companies involve multiple people in the ideation process, collecting feedback from a large group of people to deliver a truly great product. The advent of the internet era has made the crowdsourcing process even more easier. Procurement and supply chain professionals are now turning their focus towards crowdsourcing to bring such valuable inputs for their supply chain.
Why are supply chain professionals emphasizing on Crowdsourcing?
On-time, Cost-Effective Delivery
If there is ever a company that provides on-time, cost-effective delivery delighting the customer, Amazon would be the top name in people’s mind. Their delivery services are so impressive that even after choosing standard 4-5 business days delivery, they show up on your doorstep the next day, or sometimes even the same day. They are able to do this because of the vast distribution network and independent delivery fleet. Part of this success can be credited to their effort to crowdsource their delivery to service providers such as Cargomatic, who connects local shippers with carrier companies having extra space in their trucks. Delivery companies are also trying to solve the last-mile connectivity problems by crowdsourcing traffic apps, which help drivers find the most efficient routes with data from other real-time drivers.
Supports Risk Management
Most companies put in proactive risk management strategies to limit the damage and be adaptive in case of unavoidable circumstances like a natural disaster or geopolitical turmoil. In order to be prepared for situations like this and avoid manufacturing and transportation breakdown, companies are resorting to crowdsourcing. For instance, a project called zeean, enlists public feedback to collect data on economic responses to extreme weather. The company uses such data to improve supply chain responsiveness and resiliency. Additionally, crowdsourcing technology can enable companies to communicate and collaborate with their suppliers in real-time in order to mitigate supply chain risks.
The advent of social media platforms has allowed brands to communicate and engage with their customers and gain valuable inputs on product development. For instance, Lego has a dedicated site for their fans and customers who can contribute design ideas for the new product. Additionally, users can vote for their favorite idea and state how much they are willing to pay for it. In case the idea gets support from more than 10,000 people, the official Lego board will decide for its production. Companies not only crowdsource ideas for the product but also for marketing and communication as Oreo did by devising the brand positioning for new Mini-Oreo cookies. The company received more than 500 ideas from over 42 countries and was able to identify ten potential ideas for their brand positioning.