SMWNYC 2011 – The Power of Collaboration and Sharing

Description from the Social Media Week New York schedule event listing:

In the digital era where technology and access have made it so that an abundance of ideas can come from anywhere, collaboration and sharing have become crucial to the growth and survival of businesses. This panel will discuss how mass collaboration has lead to co-creation and co-consumption, what it means and how it will continue to influence business strategy, brand story, product innovation… and the world.

Speakers:

  • Moderator: John Winsor, CEO of Victors & Spoils
  • Richard Schatzberger, Chief Technology Experience Officer, Co: Collective
  • Saneel Radia, Director of Innovation at BBH New York & Head of BBH Labs New York
  • Roo Rogers, co-author of the influential book What’s Mine is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption

Event Recap:

After delivering a keynote, John Winsor, CEO of Victors & Spoils, moderated a panel of collaboration thought leaders on the state of the practice.  Saneel Radia, Director of Innovation at BBH, sees a fundamental shift in the way that transactions are occurring in the brand experience.  Roo Rogers, co-author of “What’s Mine is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption” believes that the effect of collaborative consumption is redistributing the power from the brands to the consumers.  Richard Schatzberger, Chief Technology Experience Officer at Co:, is excited by an atomization of personal and brand identities.  Just as businesses can offer APIs to leverage their expertise in a variety of ways, individuals can leverage their different unique identities across different channels to maximize their interactions.

Winsor sees a shift from developing new APIs to developing a new operating system of collaborative engagement.  The big area of experimentation, according to Schatzberger, is how we come to a problem, and how we connect the people working on a solution.  We need more than just “T-shaped” people who can network will with others.  We also need “X-shaped” and “*-shaped” people who can connect across talents and thread their expertise together.

Rogers believes that the key to collaborative consumption is a set of rules to prevent it from descending into chaos.  He spoke about the example of car sharing and how Zipcar has made it easier to track and enforce the practice.  Rules need both carrots and sticks to encourage consumers to participate and punishments for consumers who break the rules (e.g., deliver cars late.)  Another less obvious example of collaborative consumption is the new buy-back program being offered by Best Buy.  He sees the company shifting from a model of selling to a model of servicing a customer.  The key to this transformation is transparency.

The introduction of collaborative consumption practices can change consumer expectations for an industry.  Radia continued the example of Zipcar, noting that the traditional expectations of car rental (staff on hand, not being required to clean and refuel the car before returning it) couldn’t be changed overnight by an existing company.  However, because Zipcar started by offering a new set of expectations for responsibilities, they could do this in a way that the customer would accept, and now there is a set of expectations available in the industry of which traditional rental companies can take advantage.

A member of the audience asked the panel “what does collaboration mean?” when it comes to business.  Definitions have changed over the last decade.  Radia believes that many of the ten year old definitions may be better than modern crowdsourcing definitions.  He sees that co-creation is more collaborative than a system where crowds contribute but there is still a decision to be made by an authority figure.  Rogers believes that the basic definition of collaboration has been unchanged over thousands of years as humans have been social animals.  He worries that hyper-consumption has shifted concerns from cooperation to competition.  Collaboration offers us the opportunity to participate and share in a process according to human nature.

Analysis and Commentary:

The panel offered a great look at how brands and agencies can reinvent themselves using collaborative methods.  Social Media Week has been largely crowdsourced all week, from the hosts and participants in events to the staffing (as evident, for example, in the variety of contributors to the Social Media Week New York blog.

The audience of Social Media Week has played a role in collaborating on the event as well.  To see the results of this, all one has to do is follow one of the many hashtags for the Week or individual events.  Audience members have curated content in the form of quotes, observations, photos, and links across Twitter.  I recommend that you check out as much of this content as you can while you can still search for it by hashtag!

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