Collective intelligence is the enhanced ability created from the collaboration of team members, with the help of technology, to mobilize a range of information, ideas, and insights. Collective intelligence (CI) arises when the contributions of team members and technology are combined to become bigger than the sum of their parts. This results in improved learning, innovation, decision-making, and more. New technologies present different ways for diverse teams to connect over greater distances to share collective wisdom and skills. CI combines machine intelligence with human intelligence and behaviors to improve decision-making.
How do businesses use collective intelligence?
The concept of collective intelligence isn’t new, but technological innovations have created different ways to discover and tap into intelligence sources. Businesses are faced with making complex business decisions and often rely on a hierarchal, ‘top-down’ approach to operating. Bad business decisions are more likely to be made when the deciding power rests with a single person.
Coming up with a viable solution to a problem is easier and more effective when relying on the intelligence of more than one intelligent person. Relying on a single decision-maker is not only expensive, but can also lead to errors in judgment. Combining the collective wisdom of all team members has many benefits for an organization. CI results in improved workplace productivity, more innovative and successful creativity, and better coordination.
Collective intelligence and business intelligence go hand-in-hand.
Modern approaches to business intelligence target individual team members to motivate participation in decision-making processes. Business intelligence includes the applications, infrastructure, tools, and best practices for accessing and analyzing information that improves and optimizes decisions and performance. Implementing a modular, scalable, standards-based business intelligence solution helps organizations make timely, well-informed business decisions.
Unlocking collective intelligence enables data visualizations that help team members better see and understand data effectively. Interactive data visualizations allow for the exploration of details, the identifications of patterns, and changes in data processes. Visualizations make it easier to spot emerging trends. Business intelligence software gathers data into an easy-to-read reporting format that keeps team members informed. Data analytics help identify trends, issues, and opportunities. Centralized dashboards allow team members to track KPI, generate awareness of historical and real-time context, and act quickly. Data integration eliminates data silos and makes reporting and analysis easier. Faster insights lead to smarter, faster decisions that result in greater value from products and services.
Why use collective intelligence?
Four opportunities arise from the use of collective intelligence to help decision-makers solve complex problems. CI helps understand problems by generating contextual perception, facts, and information about a situation. It also helps find novel solutions or motivate team members to find new ways of approaching problem. CI helps businesses make actionable decisions with input from diverse teams with relevant expertise. It also helps businesses learn and adapt by monitoring the implementation of initiatives and sharing knowledge to improve the ability of other team members.
Collective intelligence relies on synergy and teamwork. CI connects team members through information gathering, problem-solving, peer learning, and prediction-making. It connects people with data through the generation, categorizing, or filtering of unstructured data. CI also connects multiple, diverse data sets to generate useful insights. Non-conventional data sources such as social media posts, smartphone geolocation, and sensor data are increasingly being used. Data collaboratives, open-source repositories, and APIs are often used to gather data related to collective intelligence.
Different team members may offer different ways of approaching a problem that results in new alternatives or solutions. Collective intelligence doesn’t mean that everyone has the same skills or expertise to offer. Factoring in the wisdom and skills of multiple team members is a more effective way to improve performance.