Dangers and Opportunities of the Crowdsourced Company

A new form of the Groundswell has appeared. What’s the Groundswell? We define it as a movement where individuals get what they need from each other, rather from existing institutions. The following hits home so hard for me, as I cover Social Computing as an Analyst, and I’m a former enterprise intranet manager.

In this case, employees are starting to collaborate, outside of the corporate firewall to connect, share, and learn from each other, here’s a few examples beyond the traditional Yahoo Finance Chat rooms:

Glassdoor: Rate Employers, CEOs, and find out Industry Salaries
This site launched today, although a few of my colleagues were briefed last week. Essentially, to obtain knowledge about company reviews, CEO reviews, and salary information, you have to first submit your information –all anonymously. This stealth startup, which just launched is being discussed on Techcrunch and on Cnet. I just reviewed my former employer to gain access. Essentially, companies are peer reviewed, and you can find out industry averages to see how well you do or don’t measure up to industry peers.

SalaryScout: Global Peer Salary Data
Although it feels a little less polished than Glassdoor, SalaryScout primarily offers the same peer based salary submission and review. Most interestingly is the global data available, it’s not just US focused. Do check out the map mashup of global salaries. The next step would be to standardize salaries to native currencies so we can compare. Since the technology is easy to grasp and build sites like these, the market winner will come down to aggressive marketing and fast iterative development. (submitted by bdthomas)

Criticat: Review, Advise and Discuss your employer
This startup, much in the same vein as Glassdoor offers a collaborative view into your company: “Do you feel you have a great solution to a problem in your company but not sure if everyone else will agree with you?”. Essentially, collaboration around company brainstorms happens outside the firewall. (thanks to Arjun for the tip)

UserVoice: Innovate with your marketplace

I covered this company a few weeks ago when they launched, essentially a public version of SalesForce’s IdeaExchange, it lets companies innovate (embrace) with customers by letting them submit –then vote– for the features, services, and products they want.

Get Satisfaction: Product Support –but not on your corporate domain

Although mainly satisfying startups with limited resources, and the occasional Comcast, this startup provides customers a universal way to support products, on one site, rather than visiting hundreds. A few savvy companies have started to monitor their brand.

F*ucked Company: Former dot com confession booth
Although currently shut down, it was very active in 2001-2003, this site tracked the many miserable failures of dot coms, and even Enron. Many internal memos were published within hours on this site.

Social Networks: LinkedIn, Xing, Facebook
Of course, it goes without mention that many colleagues are assembling on these social networks, before, during, and afterwork. Some frustrated companies block social networks from their firewalls, while the next generation of workers will simply bypass those shallow walls using mobile devices –the Groundswell is difficult to stop. Instead, brands should lead with policy, embrace, and look for the business opportunities of having a connected workforce.

Dangers and Opportunities of the Crowdsourced Company
The previous examples indicate a trend of what’s happening: The conversations that used to take place at the physical watercooler, has now shifted online, organized, and manifests as something greater. But what are the impacts?

Sometimes false, sometimes inflammatory, and sometimes truthful, yet frustrated sounding information will be posted to these sites from employees, former employees, and customers.

Employees get more control, as their voice will be heard to other colleagues, and in some cases, to the entire internet.

Salaries will be puffed, as professionals will seek to demonstrate how much they are valued, I expect salary data to be inaccurate, and inflated.

Candidates will have more bargaining power during hiring process, as they can view not only third party salary.com, but now look at pan-industry salaries –hiring managers and recruiters will refute.

Employees will seek out the hiring paying next step job, and develop career-pathing to lead to the larger pot of gold

Corporations will flinch, and many will setup policies to prevent employees from posting private information outside of the firewall although many of these internal memos will appear within hours on the very sites they seek to stop.

Dissatisfied and passionate customers will assemble on these third party sites to self-support each other, few companies will realize how they need to follow the conversation.

Some savvy brands will get ahead of this Groundswell, and launch their own tools internally and externally, some will successful centralize –then lead –their market conversation.

What other impacts do you see happening from this new pattern of websites that turn power over to employees and customers?