The Power of Collective Intelligence
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by Eric Lesser
Research Director and North American leader for the IBM Institute for Business Value.
In today’s globally interconnected world, organizations can ill-afford to leave any resource untapped. They have the opportunity, using social technologies, to reach out and make use of the ideas and experiences of thousands of people throughout the globe, including employees, customers, business partners and other stakeholders. Just as people are becoming more accustomed to sharing insights on their favorite restaurant, movie or fashion trend in their personal lives, they are becoming more interested in sharing knowledge as it relates to work as well. Using this “collective intelligence” can unearth a host of new opportunities for companies looking to stay ahead of the competition.
To examine this in more detail, we held in-depth conversations with a broad range of academics, vendors and companies that have applied collective intelligence techniques. These approaches run the gamut, from tightly connected communities of practice to collaborative design markets that obtain insights from thousands of participants. We looked at organizations that have run virtual employee events and others that have used prediction markets to make intelligent observations about the future. Across all of these techniques, we see a number of common themes:
o Collective Intelligence can enhance business outcomes by improving how organizations access the untapped knowledge and experience of their networks to discover and share new ideas, augment skills and distribute workload and improve forecasting effectiveness.
o Central to the success of Collective Intelligence initiatives is the ability to target and motivate the right participants, considering the need for knowledge, diversity and a willingness to challenge current thinking.
o Collective Intelligence efforts need to: address sources of resistance, integrate collective intelligence into the work and cultural fabric of the organization, and act on what is discovered, communicating value and outcomes to both the organization and the individual.
Interested in learning more about the power of Collective Intelligence? Download our most recent study at ibm.com/gbs/collectiveintelligence
Eric Lesser is the Research Director and North American leader for the IBM Institute for Business Value. He oversees a global team responsible for driving IBM’s research and thought leadership on strategic business issues.
Previously, he led IBM’s Global Business Services research and thought leadership in the area of human capital management. His research and consulting have focused on a variety of issues, including workforce and talent management, collaboration, social networking and knowledge management, and the changing role of the HR organization. As a consultant, he has worked with clients across a range of industries, including the financial services, legal, technology, and government sectors.
Lesser speaks frequently on a range of human capital topics and has edited (with Laurence Prusak) Creating Value with Knowledge: Insights from the IBM Institute for Business Value (2003). He also edited Knowledge and Social Capital and co-edited Knowledge and Communities (2000). He has written numerous articles for publications such as the Sloan Management Review, The Academy of Management Executive, the International Human Resources Information Management Journal, and the Journal of Business Strategy. He has been quoted in numerous publications, including The Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek, the Financial Times, and the Chicago Tribune, and has appeared on Fox Business News, BBC News, and CBC Newsworld.
Lesser received his MBA from Emory University, where he was a Robert W. Woodruff Fellow. He graduated summa cum laude from Brandeis University with a BA in Economics. He has also studied at the London School of Economics.