Human Nature Forecast: The C2B Revolution
Exploring this year’s Human Nature theme, we ask thought leaders about their vision of the future. What does human nature mean both personally and professionally? In the eighth episode of our Human Nature Forecast series Robert van Meer and Tim Meuleman share their thoughts about the role of ‘human nature’ in crowdsourcing.
As founders and co-owners of C2B consultancy Robert and Tim help companies in involving consumers, mainly via crowdsourcing. They also wrote “De C2B Revolutie”, the first Dutch book about crowdsourcing providing “seven steps and nineteen best cases of crowdsourcing”. In the inspiring surrounding of their office at The Hub I spoke to them about the role of Human Nature in crowdsourcing.
Crowdsourcing is old school
Although crowdsourcing gained a lot of attention in the last decade as an upcoming phenomenon, the concept of crowdsourcing is way older. “Think about the Wanted posters in the time of the Wild West”, Robert explains. Tim complements: “Another good example is the Longitude prize in the beginning of the 18th century. The British government was looking for an instrument to determine a ship’s longitude and offered prize money for whoever could come up with a solution. In the end, scientists didn’t find a solution but a clockmaker did.” And there it is: the power of the crowd.
But if crowdsourcing is something of all times, why talk about a revolution now? Robert and Tim argue that it’s time to add a seventh P to the marketing mix. The P for Participation as they elaborate in the video.
With participation of consumers at the core, Tim and Robert see a changing role for companies in the future. Where companies used to add value by efficiency and knowledge, their adding value will be more and more focused on bringing (ideas of) participating consumers together. But are companies necessary for this? Or can we do without them? Robert explains: “In order to profit from buying in bulk, what’s needed are parties or organizations that bring groups of consumers together. Although this doesn’t necessarily needs to be done by companies, I’m unsure if we’re ready to do without them.”
There are some examples of consumers making use of advantage of scale without the help of a company (a good example is Ameland Energie Coöperatie). Tim adds: “The more examples of consumers taking care of this themselves, the more likely it is that other consumers will try this as well, as they feel this is possible.” Still, Tim sees an important role for companies as initiator of consumers’ activity: “By using the right motivation tools with the right people, companies can trigger humans’ intrinsic motivations (i.e. to have fun or to develop yourself) and encourage them to use it to participate with the company.”
According to Tim and Robert, this doesn’t only change the way companies do business, it also changes the society as a whole. In the second video clip they explain how they see the future of a connected society.