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Priti Ambani from Crowdsourcing Week on the forthcoming global conference

Tim Gibbon (Social Media Portal (SMP)) - 05 February 2014

SMP profiled interview with Priti Ambani from Crowdsourcing Week

Priti Ambani from Crowdsourcing Week on the forthcoming international annual flagship conference in Singapore

Crowdsourcing Week logoSocial Media Portal (SMP): What’s your name and what do you do there at Crowdsourcing Week?

Priti Ambani (PA)
: I'm Priti Ambani, global media director at Crowdsourcing Week.

As part of the core team at Crowdsourcing Week, my responsibilities centre on developing content and media strategy, conference content and establishing strategic media partnerships. I also frequently dabble with business decision-making with our CEO, Epi Ludvik Nekaj and work with our community manager Briana Green on community engagement. The fabulous part about working for an exciting early stage company like Crowdsourcing Week is there is a lot to be done and the company culture promotes a multi-disciplinary, all hands on deck approach.

SMP: Briefly, tell us about Crowdsourcing Week (for those that don’t know), what is it and when did you first establish the conference?

PA: Launched in 2012, Crowdsourcing Week is the first global conference dedicated to providing a multilayer platform to help organisations transition into a more open, connected, and socially productive society. Crowdsourcing Week produces events that focus on how crowdsourcing can address the needs of today’s leaders to bring about meaningful change.

In less than 18-months, Crowdsourcing Week has produced summits in New York City, Berlin, Amsterdam, Warsaw and London in addition to the flagship annual conference in Singapore.

The 2nd Annual, week-long conference in Singapore, April 7-11, “Crowd Impact: Empowering Transformation”, will provide organisations with crowd-centred approaches and solutions to help them thrive in a hyper-connected society. Attendees will discover approaches and tools they need to transform their business through crowd interactions, the sharing economy and collaborative consumption.

Early bird ticket sale ends March 1, 2014!

Photograph of Priti Ambani, global media director at Crowdsourcing WeekSMP: How would you explain crowdsourcing in simple terms to anyone not familiar with it?

PA: Crowdsourcing is harnessing collaboration for problem-solving, innovation, efficiency and finance, based on loose and open networks of both amateurs and professionals, powered by digital technologies, social media, web 2.0 applications or even analog communications. We call this social productivity.

SMP: Who are your target audience and why (and why should it be important to them)?

PA: Our target audience includes decision-makers in corporations, government and the social enterprise / NGO sectors. We are also looking at SME owners who are in a better position to innovate. In addition we also focus our programming on new crowd-centric business models and crowdfunding, which is geared towards start-ups and entrepreneurs. The content and program for our global events are designed with a regional focus.

For our 2nd annual global conference in Singapore (CSW Global), our overarching theme is, "Crowd Impact: Empowering Transformation," where the conference will explore the diverse ways crowdsourcing and crowdfunding are catalyzing a transformative shift across finance, business, marketing, government and more.

For Singapore, the content is being designed to encourage multi-disciplinary learning by example. Each day will highlight case studies, solutions and lessons learned while bringing together perspectives from a wide range of sectors. So, it is really for a visionary leader anywhere, someone who wants to keep up with the times and remain relevant in this hyper connected world. Whether crowdsourcing is a term that’s sparked your curiosity or a practice you use every day at work, the program at CSW Global will inspire you with new ideas, insights, and skills to quickly bridge and embrace these new approaches and business models.

SMP: What regions will it cover for throughout 2014?

PA: We are planning a whole pipeline of global Crowdsourcing Week Summits in 2014 that all starts with our flagship event in Singapore, April 7-11.

Warsaw - May 2014
Budapest - June 2014
Brussels - June 2014
Barcelona - June 2014
Buenos Aires - September 2014
Nairobi - September 2014
Copenhagen - October 2014
Hong Kong - November 2014
Shanghai - November 2014
Tokyo - November 2014
Toronto - November 2014

Yes, it is going to be an exciting and busy year for all of us and we are looking forward to it. Information on all the above events will be available on our website soon. You can also sign up for our newsletter to get all our updates delivered to your inbox.

SMP: How does Crowdsourcing Week help stakeholders?

PA: Crowdsourcing Week is the first global community and platform for innovators and businesses in the crowd-centric space. There is a lot happening globally and we are bridging the gap between the pioneers in the practice and change makers looking to incorporate a crowd-focussed culture in their organisations.

We are unifying the community to share best practices and lessons learned in a dynamic and ever changing economic and social environment. I think this is the value we bring to all our stakeholders, whether you are in Shanghai, Nairobi, Toronto or Copenhagen.

And we are listening to our community and bringing them content that is most relevant. In partnership with Wikibrands, we are currently producing the first Annual Crowdsourcing Survey where crowd practitioners and interested individuals can tell us where they think crowdsourcing is headed. Survey respondents will automatically receive a 10% off registration coupon for CSW Global 2014 in Singapore.

Crowsourcingweek website image

SMP: How did you initially attract users to your site and blog and how do you do it now?

PA: Our biggest effort is geared towards our conferences and the innovators we bring to our stage. By producing great content, we have been able to sustain interest to our web page and blog. We have strategic partnerships in place with many relevant businesses, government agencies and non-profits and with thought leaders who contribute to our blog. We are currently building and scaling this basic strategy.

SMP: What are the low moments of what you have been doing so far (and in regards to Crowdsourcing Week)?

I would like to call all stumbling blocks as learning opportunities and there have been many growing pains. Working on a global scale means we have to consider cultural, political and socio-economic diversity and that has truly helped us grow as an empathetic company.

SMP: What are the high moments of what you have been doing so far (and in regards to Crowdsourcing Week)?

PA: From our modest beginnings producing a two-day summit in NYC in Oct 2012, we have come a long way. By the end of 2014, we are on track to execute two weeklong flagship conferences in Singapore in addition to 16 shorter summits worldwide. This would not have been possible without our dedicated team, our founding sponsors and the scores of organisations and people who have believed in our mission.

SMP: What are the main social channels are you using, why and which are the most effective for Crowdsourcing Week?

PA replies with:

Twitter @crowdweek and hashtag #cswglobal

As you can see above, we are using a range of social media channels to communicate with our community. There are some solid reasons for that:

  • We have a global spread of engaged users, so we use multiple social media channels to reach them.

  • Our conference content has led to rich YouTube content so that is another distribution channel we use.

  • Another way we connect with our audience is through blog catergory and Twitter hashtag #crowdchat (#cswglobal for the conference) that has seen great engagement levels. We have guest speakers from all over the world covering relevant regional topics and these have been a great hit.

SMP: What sort of activity / engagement are you receiving across the social channels that you use and how do you create / sustain this?

PA: We have a robust and relevant community that has been built almost organically, a healthy 3500+ followers on Twitter and a nearly 5000 strong Facebook likes. We are still developing our G+ and LinkedIn following. We have a great community manager in Briana Green who is spearheading our social efforts.

SMP: What is the most challenging part of building upon the brands presence in digital environments (including social media)?

PA: I believe building a culture of transparency is the most challenging aspect for brands in a digital environment. The digital climate with social media and open communications has thrown many brands and companies unsure of crisis communication and engagement strategies. Social media and digital environments can be brutal, where opinions, tweets, reactions cannot be hidden. They are for all to see and do not go away. You are what you tweet, like or share. Each and every Internet user can be a content generator and this can be both advantageous or a nightmare based on how a company tackles its digital presence.

Brands are learning how to handle this everyday as this is very different from the last decade where secrecy was the norm and legal departments advised against any kind of transparency and openness. Today if I have a legitimate question on a company’s workings, I can tweet a question. If they respond, their reaction is there for all to see. If they choose not to respond, their response (or lack of it) is also in the public domain.

Though hard to adopt at first, I see this as a win-win for everybody and tremendous opportunity for organization to begin an era of trust with all stakeholders. This is exactly what we aim to do at Crowdsourcing Week. We want to help leaders develop a culture that is ready for this digital age.

SMP: What do you see as the biggest challenges and opportunities for crowdsourcing throughout 2014?

PA: I personally think that crowdsourcing is maturing and it is time for regulatory and political action to catch up. We have seen legal implications emerge especially with the sharing economy, freelance crowd labour and crowdfunding. We need these streamlined as soon as possible to see a greater impact for our social, environmental and economic climate.

For example, we are still awaiting the equity crowdfunding framework in the US, the sharing economy is bringing up concerns on life and product insurance and while crowd-labour has helped unemployment there are valid concerns on job security and protecting intellectual property.

This very challenge is a great opportunity for governments and agencies to lead the way. We have seen some proactive steps from cities like San Francisco and Seoul that are taking these issues head on. This is also a tremendous time for governments in developing economies in Asia and Africa to learn and adapt from current best practices to forge development in these areas.

SMP: What are your top five predictions for crowdsourcing for the next 12 to 18-months?

PA: My top short-term predictions for crowdsourcing are:

  1. The emergence of the Internet of Things will power crowdsourcing applications like never before.

  2. We are also on the cusp of better governance using crowdsourcing applications and this is an exciting space I am watching closely.

  3. Crowdsourcing through mobile and smart devices is also another area that is positioned to only grow with the exponential rise in global mobile phone usage.

  4. Equity crowdfunding is ready for the limelight.

  5. Regarding verticals, I see a growth spurt for crowdsourcing in healthcare and education with some disruptive business ideas coming up.

I am also excited to hear what our community predicts for crowdsourcing through the 1st Annual Crowdsourcing Survey. There is still time to complete the survey; add your opinion to the mix.

SMP: What are your top five tips for individuals / organisations in approaching and management crowdsourcing?

PA:  Through my exposure to some of the best minds in crowd-centric innovation, I recognize some key elements to approach and manage crowdsourcing in any organisation.

  1. Incorporate crowd participation within the DNA of your organisation: The worst approach to crowdsourcing is treating it an add-on marketing gimmick. Crowd participation is more than that. It means actively engaging your stakeholders in a two-way conversation and creating shared value. So it helps to incorporate this mindset with the organisation mission statement and build it from the ground up.

  2. Begin with internal processes: It probably looks easy to engage your external stakeholders, but companies that get most of the crowd is when they cultivate internal processes first that opens up communication channels with their employees and close partners. Charity must begin at home.

  3. Cultivate your community: Your crowdsourcing efforts can only be as good as the community it is intended to engage. Attracting and retaining an effective community is a long and important process and these efforts need strategic thinking and foresight.

  4. Crowdsourcing is about giving away some control: Now this may lead the legal departments at your company to go bonkers but crowdsourcing is all about giving away power and control strategically. This can be scary and catastrophic if not thought out but if done well, it is very rewarding. This also reinforces point #1, I make above.

  5. Keep on iterating: Once your organization opens up communication and has invited innovation, internally and externally, the next question is - what do you do with this information? Organisations should realise that simply using crowdsourcing and open innovation is not the end; rather it is the means to your goal that could be – creativity, efficiency or funding. Ensure that your organization has a plan to follow up on crowd output, iterate and refine your campaigns.

An example of Crowdsourcing Week (from 2013)

SMP: Best way to contact you and Crowdsourcing Week?

PA: Via email priti @, LinkedIn and Twitter @envirotarian
Epi Ludvik Nekaj on Twitter @lplus and LinkedIn
Briana Green on LinkedIn

Now some questions for fun

SMP: What did you have for breakfast / lunch?

PA: Oatmeal

SMP: What’s the last good thing that you did for someone?

PA: Helped my host clean up after a party last night.

SMP:  If you weren’t working on Crowdsourcing Week what would you be doing?
I would be working on another cool start-up that would be making our world a little better or building my own restaurant.

SMP: When and where did you go on your last holiday?

PA: My last family holiday was a long weekend in Memphis and Nashville in Tennessee, US.

SMP: What’s the first thing you do when you get into the office of a morning?

PA: My morning cup of tea!

SMP: If you had a superpower what would it be and why?

PA: To eliminate extreme poverty because it cripples human dignity and our capacity to rebuild.

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