Vodafone Tapping into Crowdsourcing (Unsourcing)

This popped into my Facebook feed, Obviously Vodafone decided to tap into crowd sourcing in an attempt to moneytize the fans they have on their page. Hardly an original idea, earlier this week the economist published this article about how major corporates managed to cut down on their support costs through crowd sourcing. Vodafone as usual followed suite, Never the early adopter Vodafone never risks into venturing into anything innovative until someone else tries it and it works. By the time Vodafone is done building it, its already yesterday’s news.

“Unsourcing”, as the new trend has been dubbed, involves companies setting up online communities to enable peer-to-peer support among users.

Outsourcing is so last year” the Economist delicately puts it, Everybody is rushing towards Unsourcing now, Unsourcing is all about leveraging the company’s customer base, Instead of having employees responding to customer raised incidents they rely instead on the good nature of other customers. thus achieving what they call peer-2-peer support, costing almost nothing it is at times much better than the standard support models (which are usually outsourced these days).

I’ve been using unsourced support for quite sometime now, having switched my main operating system from windows to Linux (Ubuntu) few years ago I learned that even though it doesn’t have a formal support structure my incidents got resolved a lot faster than it did when I was using windows, Ubuntu’s support is based on a really well kept forum where people post their issues and try to solve issues being suffered by others, to date I haven’t suffered from an incident that wasn’t resolved effectively and within few hours from posting it on the forum. I know for fact it works.

The Economist’s article lists several incredibly successfully examples of how unsourcing saved millions of dollars that would have other wise went into outsourcing, coporates relies on simple but well proven techniques to motivate customers keeping them engaged and interested in helping one another, mainly gamification and awards based on their participation. Naturally not all support functions can be unsourced, anything that requires access to the system, or customer’s confidential data has no way to be unsourced, but most of the trivial tickets that can be resolved by the customer (often the most time consuming) can be eliminated.

A single super fan in the Logitech network, code-named KachiWachi, has posted over 45,000 responses related to the company’s webcams.

Perhaps Vodafone is never the early adopter globally, however locally, I believe they are the first company to rely on unsourcing. By the way outsourcing constitutes most of our IT exports, lets just hope it doesn’t catch up.


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