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By Tugce Bulut, CEO, Streetbees

At no point in history have communications and culture moved faster than today.

This is the age of the collaborative, co-creative, knowledge-based, hyper-productive organisation. The accelerating pace of change in business means there is an ever-growing urgency to connect the right people with the right information to drive business decisions. This can often mean the difference between success and failure.

This change in pace has been driven by our increasing use of technology, allowing consumers to capture their emotions, thoughts, actions, passions and attitudes (offline and online) in more detail than ever before.

Consumers’ use of digital, social and mobile channels, has changed the way they express themselves, leaving ever increasing footprints of the conversations they have, the things that they see and how they live. This represents an opportunity for us as researchers, consultants and marketers to increase our understanding of consumer journeys like never before, to make sense of these footprints, analyse and package them in a way that they are strategically actionable in the real-world.

This drive and need for actionable insights is now being pioneered through “Crowd Innovation”, and at Streetbees, we deliver insight from the crowd through the power of our Conversational Research technology, focusing on the ‘why’ and the ‘what next’? Not just the ‘what’?

Sourcing the “why?” and the “what next?” using traditional research methods is often challenging (from a geographical access and data quality perspective), expensive and slow. The legacy methods used relying on static consumer panels and survey forms cause value erosion in quality of market intelligence sourced and to eliminate this erosion, Streetbees harness the power of the crowd to capture consumers’ insights on the spot as they engage with services and products, allowing to observe what people actually do, rather than relying on what they say they do.

The Streetbees story started with an unmet need when a global tea brand wanted to expand into 20 new countries but couldn’t due to lack of data at an affordable price. Before investing in new product development and local factories they wanted to do research to understand how people buy and make their tea. The research agency consulted said the data would take 2 months to collect and cost $500k USD. The research would be done by field agents surveying unknown panellists. Due to budget and time constraints, the project was cancelled and the tea company froze its expansion plans for emerging markets, and instead continues to focus on data-rich developed markets.

Streetbees was born out of this need for access to affordable data, anywhere in the world. Our ability to provide real-time intelligence and insights leveraging mobile technology and community across 87 countries enables our partners to be more:

  • Agile: faster, in-depth, representative, multi-channelled
  • Immersed: bringing the voice of the consumer into the heart of strategic business decisions
  • Effective: reduce research budget waste, increase quality and quantity of output

It all starts with your research objectives. We turn business problems into research questions and embed them in our Conversational Research platform to collect in-the-moment insights. No panels. No survey forms. No huge subscription fees for off-the-shelf data.  Just direct line of communication between you and your consumers on the ground.

We translate and localise studies within hours using Artificial Intelligence, and field questions to the right people in the right place using geo-location technology and our community instantly shares their insights captured.

One of the key challenges in leveraging any crowd is in being able to verify that someone actually is who they say they are. This is usually the white elephant in any room, and is often a question un-asked when sourcing sample for questionnaires and projects.

We address this issue, with every single bee going through an identity verification process. Once this is done, every single image and data point is cross-verified by human analysts for quality assurance, and our built-in algorithms monitor the data in real time to ensure representative sampling. Every member of our global community gets a rating after every single task they participate in and receives feedback.

As the crowd innovation continues to develop, there are exciting challenges ahead for marketers and researchers alike:

  • Emerging technology: when new tech such as virtual reality becomes mainstream, the systems that we currently use to track consumer behaviour and usage will need to adapt to capture new ways consumers communicate their needs and wants
  • Engagement and reward models: as the amount of data people share increases, the value exchange in using data commercially needs to fair and transparent and will need to move beyond the “points and prize” model, providing real cash incentives
  • Data interpretation and visualisation: as the data we collect grows in size, and the format in which we collect changes, data visualisation tools and dashboards will need to adapt to seamlessly fuse quantitative and qualitative data to deliver one story

Whatever challenges we face on the way, the huge potential of the crowd is here now, and it will be a rewarding and exciting place for everyone to engage in.

To find out more about working with a crowd, please contact the author of this post – Tugce Bulut from Streetbees or Greg Howard from Deloitte Pixel.

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Greg Howard, Deloitte Pixel Lead

Greg is responsible for the day to day management and direction of Deloitte’s crowdsourcing capability, Deloitte Pixel. Within this role he explores how the crowd can disrupt the way Deloitte and its clients do work and where the crowd can be used most effectively. Greg previously spent 3 years working in Deloitte Digital, focusing on delivery of new digital experiences for clients across a range of industries.

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