Competitive Intelligence

Tactical, Operational & Strategic Analysis of Markets, Competitors & Industries

Dear Group members,


I recently read some interesting insights on Crowdsourcing, a practice that Wikipedia defines as "the act of outsourcing tasks, traditionally performed by an employee or contractor to a large group of people or community (a crowd) through an open call". The key in crowdsourcing is to break down a specific task into small chunks of work that can be performed by a relevant established professional (or knowledgeable amateur) in his spare time for the benefit or a larger organization.


This type of practice has already been used in Marketing activities such as when a company wants to design a new t-shirt it makes an open call for submissions from web users. Crowdsourcing has also been used in writing code in software production. A more hypothetical example would be that a CI - professional would crowdsource parts of a background investigation into a competitor so that someone would do financial due diligence. another value chain analysis, another competitive positioning analysis etc... There are no immediate arguments that come to my mind why this sort of practice could not be used in industrial manufacturing, too, at some point in the process.


Crowdsourcing is not a subject without controversy, not least because of the implications it has for the world of work. But I started to think more deeply about the fact that the crowdsourcing assignments are sought through an "open call". More specific questions that came to my mind are: How open is the call for submissions? How much signals about its intentions does the company give away by submitting the open call, although the assignment is broken down into smaller tasks that do not necessarily give away the whole plan? How can companies utilize crowdsourcing without giving away too much information about its intentions? How can competitive intelligence professionals get intel on the intentions of competitors by mining open calls for crowdsourcing assignments? How can that be done ethically?


Maybe some of you have already come across crowdsourcing as a phenomenon, and maybe also the CI-implications of crowdsourcing. It would be interesting to discuss this topic here on the IntelCollab.


Best regards,



PS. The Wikipedia-entry on "Crowdsourcing" to which I referred above can be found under:

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Replies to This Discussion


If a practitioner has experience of something that is unrelated to the field of his or her current employer, but which experience has been gained earlier on in his or her career (and which can be discussed without disclosing detail about a previous employer either), would there then as such be a problem with the practitioner participating in a crowdsourcing assignment? This would be a case of disseminating knowledge from a practitioner who e.g. has made a cross-industry career move. This kind of tapping into the knowledge and experience of a practitioner could be useful when there is a knowledge gap within the current consultant community. Note my use of the word "generic" knowledge in my original comment.

But...I recognize the concern that arises from the current employer not being able to monitor this type of practitioners' "moonlighting" activity in the crowdsourcing world (and it would indeed be interesting for the practitioner-employee and his crowdsourcing contact not to allow that to happen). The only way around this dilemma would be to find some way whereby the practitioner's current employer would have some sort of direct benefit itself from the practitioner's participation in a crowdsourcing network - while being able to guard itself against leaks.That is the situation that I meant should be accommodated by the Terms and Conditions.

In the teleconference on Crowdsourcing on the 25 June a suggestion was made that we would continue the lively discussion in another teleconference during July. Arik got back to me today and suggested either 16 July or 23 July for the next teleconference on this topic.

Is the group still interested in continuing discussing crowdsourcing and if so, is one of the above dates suitable for you?

All the best,


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