Crowdsourcing the workforce

John C. Tanner
12 Nov 2010

The “cloud” can do many things, depending on who you ask. If you ask, it can help companies crowdsource their own staff for ideas on how to move the company forward. revealed Thursday that Australian incumbent Telstra has been using its Salesforce Ideas service for the past year to run a web forum called “T[ideas]” that essentially allows all of Telstra’s 30,000+ employees – as well as its partners, contractors and retail staff – to submit and discuss ideas that can be voted on and eventually passed on to the upper management.


According to Lindsey Armstrong,’s VP for Asia Pacific & Japan, Telstra has identified close to 300 new company initiatives via T[ideas], and has implemented a number of them, including a 24/7 call center and scheduling technician appointments on weekends.


The selling point for Telstra, she says, is the ability to tap into the “long tail” of ideas in the telco’s vast workforce.


“In a workforce that large, most actionable ideas come from around 20% of the company’s staff, but the other 80% of the workforce have their own expertise and may have ideas on how to improve things that will never reach the ear of the CEO,” Armstrong says.


As such, crowdsourcing those idea via a social networking forum is a fast, efficient way to tap into that community knowledge even at scales in the tens of thousands, she says. Which is where the cloud angle comes in, she adds.


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