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featureed image Published 2015-08-04, by Paul Tobin

How Crowdsourcing Your Training Can Reduce Costs & Improve Channel Performance

When is the last time you went direct to Microsoft or Apple to resolve a technical or how-to issue on your computer? If you’re like me, not recently. Chances are you Google your question and end up watching a YouTube video or reading some independent blog.

Simply put, in many cases the “crowd” offers a better solution than the manufacturer. And this is true with many companies, especially those with popular products that have a large installed base. The fact is the crowd has exponentially more resources than the manufacturer and, in most cases, works for recognition rather than fees.

So, that being said, this is a no-brainer, right? Turn the crowd loose and good things will happen, right? Oooops…not so fast! In this post I’ll discuss when and how to leverage crowd sourced training and the processes for making it work successfully. I will also share a real-world case study.

"You Can’t Control the Crowd"

Recently, in a discussion about crowd sourcing training, a dealer training manager at a large company said to me that he’s not confident that the so-called crowd will create training up to the standards of the company. I suggested that he needs to be aware that whether or not it’s up to his standards, it’s already out there and it’s out of his control. I then went to You Tube and Googled his company and dozens of training videos came up in the search. At that point he realized that if it’s already out there, he’d better find a way to control the quality of the content.

"You CAN Control the Content"

The first step, then, is to get as much of this under control as possible. You can begin to do so by setting up either a private YouTube channel, or a private company-managed video channel using a service. Once you do this, you can now “channel” content into the company-approved location, aka channel, where you can review and approve or reject any video before it goes live. You can’t control the entire Internet, but you can control your own company-approved channel. And, if your responsibility is training sales and service reps in your distribution channel then you need to make sure you’ve got some say in the quality of the content that is being shared.

Best Practices

Setting up a private YouTube channel or a private channel with a video provider is your first step. Communicating to your sales and service techs that this new corporate channel exists is your second step. Once you’ve completed these steps you then need to implement a process of focus, approval and publishing. In your own private channel you can implement a very customized process that may not be available from YouTube. This is an approval process that alerts key reviewers when a new video is uploaded to the site, allows them to easily review that video, and provides for rejection or posting of that video.

A Real World Case Study by Ed Flahive of VideoNitch

Ed is the Chief Learning Officer at VideoNitch and a leader in this field.  Here's Ed's case study and list of best practices: “From a delivery standpoint, sharing knowledge across an organization, especially a global organization, can sometimes be difficult. One of the most effective examples of utilizing crowdsourcing for training is where a Fortune 100 global equipment manufacturing company decided to leverage the knowledge of their technicians to train peers via video. The idea was to post a technical question online and have their top technicians create short video tutorials (“selfies”) to answer the question. These tutorials were uploaded directly to an online social video management platform where the content could be properly vetted, tagged and published. This resulted in hundreds of video tutorials being shared, rated, discussed and thousands of technicians being trained worldwide. The content being created by the “crowd” and managed by the learning and development staff. So, how do you leverage these crowdsourcing bets practices? Start with these tips:

  • Leverage online discussion forums or social networks

  • Choose the right crowd to source

  • Ask direct questions to targeted audiences

  • Validate the responses

Some professionals believe that crowdsourcing training is risky and could create more problems than solutions, I would argue that done right it can greatly reduce the development cycle, increase time to market and boost employee engagement.”

In summary, you may be surprised at how much content you can add to your training library by launching a company sponsored, crowdsourced training site. And the best part is that this training is created with very little cost to you, the manufacturer. But, as always, the devil is in the details. You may need a custom channel created for your company and an integrated approval process to ensure that only company-approved content is available for your dealer service and sales people.  Once you’ve done this you should be able to reap the many benefits of crowdsourced training.