The FLIRT model of crowdsourcing – an analytical approach

I write from time to time here about mass collaboration – and it is something I have been thinking about more recently as I read Clay Shirky’s Here Comes Everybody. In a nutshell I’m excited about this space because the way the internet lowers the cost and barriers to collaboration has the potential to unleash all manner of new group activities.

Crowdsourcing, and more specifically social shopping is one such activity, and one that I see as the natural next evolution for the tired comparison shopping space.

So when I came across the Sami Viitamaki’s FLIRT model of crowdsourcing I had to share it.

(Thanks to Taneli Tika for the pointer – for those that don’t know Taneli is one of Finland’s most talented web entrepreneurs and has been involved with a host of great web businesses including Dopplr and Sulake.)

The FLIRT model does two things:

  1. it describes the roles of different players in a crowdsourcing ecosystem – taking the analysis beyond the usual 1% create, 9% contribute, 90% consume – see the diagram above
  2. it also offers guidance on strategy for crowdsourcing companies

The guidance on strategy comes from the five elements that constitute FLIRT:

If you are an entrepreneur or investor in this area you really should read the original introductory post and the detail behind the five links above.

To whet your appetite (and finish) I will give a taster of what you will find.

From the discussion of focus:

Crowdsourcing efforts at present can be extended to various fieldsof doing business, including, but not limited to (some example companies in parentheses):

  • innovation (innocentive)
  • new product development, product design (threadless)
  • existing product feature enhancement (P&G’s vocalpoint)
  • production
  • evaluation of ideas, products, services, features, content, etc. (sellaband)
  • marketing
  • distribution (Fon)
  • customer support (many tech companies)

Clearly, crowdsourcing is not ideal for every field of business (Considering crowdsourcing your accounting? Think again.) and suitability varies across organizations. However, with developing
channels and tools, their innovative applications and resulting business models, the possibilities grow more diverse each day.

And from the discussion on incentives:

What’s in it for me? That’s a question everybody makes – implicitly or explicitly – when faced with a proposal to co-operate and co-create. Quite naturally, monetary incentives are widely used in crowdsourcing efforts (a few cents per HIT at amazon’s mturk; $2000 in cash and benefits for each design taken into production at threadless; up to $1,000,000 for a winning solution at innocentive) and are usually required, if only for justifying the intellectual property transfers that take place between the company and the customer. However, there is a plethora of other, often implicit incentives that many times have even more influence on the participation rates and intensity of community members. It is important ot note that people, at least in the developed world, do not participate in crowdsourcing efforts to support their living, but instead for e.g. fun, recreation and intellectual or creative challenge.