The latest – and most successful tech – is turning to crowds to gain the clarity needed to make crucial business decisions. WGSN Sales Performance Director Melanie Gividen reports
Relying on a group of people to help you make a decision – rather than the advice of an expert – may seem counter-intuitive, but it is increasingly the norm. The fact “the crowd” can be collectively wise was originally identified back in the early C20 by Sir Francis Galton, a cousin of Charles Darwin, but it is the internet that has brought it to real prominence. For a group of people to be wise, the conditions need to be right – the group must be diverse and the people, act independently of one another. Online access has made it much easier to create the right environment.
From Google, to the stock market to newer applications – there are plenty of examples of how “the wisdom of crowds” is adding fresh insight to modern decision making and solving very current problems. Take Duolingo as an example – designed to help people learn a language and advance their careers it is also tackling the problem of how you make the “not for profit” part of the internet far more widely accessible. It helps individuals learn a language in return for asking them to translate texts. A group, or crowd, of people working on the same piece are as good as a professional translator. Today Duolingo is the most popular way to learn a new language globally.
Google maps with navigation and Waze are other examples of technologies using the wisdom of crowds. Waze for instance uses GPS navigation software to share real time traffic conditions based on other users journeys. You can also alert other drivers to problems on their route. The greater the number of drivers who use this software, the more beneficial it is to its customers.
Retailers face constant challenges around deciding how deep to buy items in the range and getting the pricing architecture right. They are big decisions that help determine just how successful trading is. Focus groups, early samples in store, pre-orders, social media hype and even asking the advice of colleagues can all help but present challenges too. Harnessing the wisdom of the crowd – having a panel of reviewers that can rate pre-season items and show market potential, age and size appeal and price perception is additional insight that can help make more informed and critical business decisions easier.
So next time you have a problem, trust the wisdom of the crowd – you won’t regret it.
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