The uses and challenges of Collective Intelligence in Organisations (Report)

The Internet is giving rise to some remarkable technologies that enable large groups of people to collaborate online. This is having a huge impact in the field of Collective Intelligence as it provides an opportunity to progress research and practice in this area. There is a need to understand what’s important in mass online interactions and discussions because intelligence doesn’t just reside within us as individuals – it also emerges from groups of people.

This report provides an overview of Collective Intelligence in organisations. It brings together perspectives from different areas of study in what is a diverse and multi-disciplinary topic. First we look at Collective Intelligence in general terms – what it is, how it is defined, the impact of social and digital technologies and how organisations are using it to address a variety of business issues. Then we discuss the various challenges to overcome in designing and using Collective Intelligence tools in an organisational context.

The report centres on Collective Intelligence systems and tools that involve some form of discussion, ideation or interaction as well as interactive voting or rating mechanisms. This is because tools that possess these functions are reasonably common and also that they are often the most complex in terms of design, administration and analysis.

One issue that emerges quite strongly is that not all Collective Intelligence is created equally – there are levels of Collective Intelligence. Simple survey methodologies do provide Collective Intelligence of a sort, but what they lack is a social element that enables participants to evaluate each other’s responses.

This is important because when this type of aggregation is provided it is possible to obtain Social Collective Intelligence – and that’s quite a different proposition in terms of the richness of insight produced. If a group is interacting in a system that has been carefully designed to optimise their input and extract insight then the level of Collective Intelligence obtained can be far greater than any survey.

You can access the full report here, or the Executive Summary for a condensed overview.

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