Gasping GatekeepersI didn't know what I didn't know. Reading Jeff Howe's excellent Crowdsourcing: Why The Power Of The Crowd Is Driving The Future Of Business I missed it. The book's subtitle is key and the "Future of Business" is NOW.
We going to crowdsource everything.
The half life of gatekeepers in any industry is yesterday. Upsetting? Maybe if you are vested in status quo economics and like being the head gatekeeper in charge. Here's the thing. In a REVOLUTION the gatekeeping elite doesn't fare so well. And make no mistake we sit right in the middle of a digital tornado powered by Social + Mobile (SMobile) and sweeping in off the plains deep, dark and powerful beyond imagination or full comprehension.
Seeing The Tipping PointYou almost NEVER see the tipping point of a trend. Tipping points are assigned after the fact. This moment, TODAY, is the tipping point of the Howe's crowdsourcing economy. The origins of our crowdsourcing tipping point came from:
- Moore's Law - more computing power for less.
- Mobile & Smart Phones - these "game consoles" make everything digital.
- Social Networks - social nets connect us all so we can play together.
- Experience Economy - the more digital we become the more tactile we want.
- Rising Bars, Quick Learners - "cult of the amateur" is turning out fine.
Rising Bars and Quick LearnersI read Andrew Keen's 2008 The Cult of the Amateur: How blogs, MySpace, YouTube, and the rest of today's user-generated media are destroying our economy, our culture, and our values and bought into it a little. Another miss. Keen isn't even half right.
Turns out Keen vastly underestimated amateurs and over estimated pros from Dover. Amateurs raised on Steven Johnson's Everything Bad Is Good For You video games learn fast and don't passively consume anything. Keen's over estimation of existing status quo gatekeepers is also easy to understand.
Because you habitually do something doesn't mean you are STILL and FOREVER great at it. Why should you gatekeep me simply because you have a printing press and physical distribution? The digital revolution means no one can afford to put ink on paper anymore and that truth makes physical distribution moot.
Gutenberg On My PhoneWhen you can squeeze Johannes Gutenberg's press into my pocket on my phone everything changes, and by everything let's mean:
I even have a very bossy, beautiful Jewish friend who I thought would be all over setting me up. "Go on J Date," is what she told me. Don't think SMobile has changed love? Think again.
Popup NationAny barrier, any gatekeeper, is in peril. If you wanted to be in the hotel or BnB business before the death of gatekeepers big money was involved. My mother worked for The Homestead Inn in Greenwich.
The Homestead Inn was renovated by a Park Avenue plastic surgeon's wife and her friend who just happened to be the wife of a very successful businessman. Why? Because it took MILLIONS to renovate the opulent BnB overlooking the Long Island Sound.
Now you rent a room or two in your house as easily as taking a few pictures and creating a profile on AirBnB.com or iStopover.com. Wait, did I say you needed great pictures. Wrong, AirBnB will send a photographer to take pictures for you, sell you the insurance you need and crowdsource your "guests". What happens to Marriott's room rates when we can stay a mile from our location in a nice home? A: They go DOWN.
The hotel business isn't the only one being put into a blender. Even R&D stalwarts like my former employer Procter and Gamble realize they MUST crowdsource their next generation of products. P&G knows their huge size and voracious appetite for NEW and IMPROVED demands more R&D than they can afford. Increasingly the next generation of P&G products comes from a network of crowdsourced garage labs and mom and pop inventors.
Put our product development idea on Quirky.com and P&G just might buy it, pay for all development costs and give you a royalty. "What about protecting my intellectual property," I can hear some thinking.
I was at a crowdfunding presentation by Candace Klein CEO of SoMoLend.com the other day. Candace, a lawyer who helped write the Jobs Act, has hundreds of ideas on Quirky. Is she worried about her IP? A little, but Candace correctly figures a little of something is better than 100% of nothing. This is another way of saying Candace Klein thinks like an Internet marketer.
Clothing retailers such as Everlane.com embrace the popup concept of "flash stores". Flash stores
What we TWEET matters, what we don't ceases to exist.
Restaurants aren't far behind. Squeezed by high rents Brooklyn saw the rise of "popup" restaurants. Some restaurants "pop up" seasonally while others open for a few days a week. What is to stop a version of AirBnB for restaurants where you can play chef and invite people over for dinner? Nothing except the platform website needed to form the idea.
Here is a good summary of other related trends from Steve Drake:
Associations, Flash Mobs, Meetups, Popup Restaurants and Unconferences: What's the connection?
Random thoughts on options for associations:
Can “mainline associations” – who typically follow strict protocol and structure for services such as conferences – reach more people with smaller, spontaneous events?
Here are three examples of “unstructured gatherings” at work around the world:
- The Unconference The unconference format creates space for peer-to-peer learning, collaboration and creativity. At the start, the whole group will gather together and will have the opportunity to put conference sessions on the agenda. All sessions are welcome. One or more facilitators keep the process and discussion moving.
- Flashmobs and Meetups. Meetup allows members to find and join groups unified by a common interest, such as politics, books, games, movies, health, pets, careers or hobbies. Users enter their ZIP code or their city and the topic they want to meet about, and the website helps them arrange a place and time to meet.
- Pop-up Restaurants. The “pop-up” restaurant trend – in which restaurant owners let their establishments be taken over by amateur chefs and/or foodies for a night – has been thriving in the U.S. and Europe for a couple of years. Facebook’s definition: "Pop-up restaurant -- A venue that is turned into a restaurant featuring a chef and culinary team that is normally not in that kitchen or venue for a limited period of time." Linked
From Steve Drake
Crowdsourcing's Secret InfluenceReading all of this you may be thinking so what or who cares. Don't think that because you should care. Crowdsourcing is here and changing every game. You should care because crowdsourcing is in your buying or selling future.
Learn how to effectively crowdsource and your value skyrockets because there are only a handful of marketers who understand SMobile + email marketing + crowdsourcing well enough to be masters (right now the number of experts in this field is about to go up very rapidly so here is your chance to get in on the ground floor of a revolution).
If you asked me one of my secrets to generating more than $30M in online sales I would quote Chevy Chase in Caddyshack, "See the ball, be the ball". Every Internet marketer reading this post should be asking themselves how they can "see the crowdsource, be the crowdsource".
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