Crowdcast, which offers what it calls “collective intelligence tools” for businesses based on crowdsourcing ideas from employees, has launched a new executive dashboard that allows a company to track the predictions made by staff and compare them against official corporate targets. For example, a project might officially be scheduled to launch on a specific date, but Crowdcast’s game-based forecasts by employees who are actually involved in the project might show only a small chance of ever hitting that goal. Crowdcast CEO Mat Fogarty says knowing this can allow a company to either shift its priorities or devote more resources to a project. The company is based in
Redwood City San Francisco and is backed by Alsop Louie Partners.
The new executive dashboard allows management to see the internal crowd-based forecast (or “crowdcast”) for any one of the questions or metrics the company has decided to measure through the service, Fogarty says. “By looking at the dashboard, they can compare the crowd forecast with the official internal forecast, and they can also see how the crowdcast has changed over time,” so they can tell whether the project or goal is getting closer to reality or further away. And they can look at the crowdcast by group — to see whether the prediction from staff in engineering is different from those in marketing, for example — as well as getting recommendations provided by employees.
Fogarty, who worked in financial planning at several big companies before launching Crowdcast — including as a game developer at Electronic Arts — says one of the big issues in his previous jobs was “getting accurate information about when a project was going to be finished, how much it was going to cost, and so on.” Companies usually have official targets for those kinds goals, he says, but they are often unrealistic for a variety of reasons, and the people working on those projects often know it. “Those kinds of official targets may be motivational, but to run your business on those metrics is very dangerous,” he says.
So Fogarty started Crowdcast as a way of trying to aggregate that knowledge from within a company and show it to those who needed to know it. The software sets up a kind of prediction market that allows employees to bet on a certain outcome using virtual currency (players start with $20,000). If their guess is the closest to the final result, they get a virtual payout. Over time, if their predictions are the most accurate, they get a prominent place on an internal “leaderboard” and can win other prizes such as Amazon gift cards.
Crowdcast’s prediction market-style forecasts are similar to other kinds of tools companies use for collecting ideas from employees and customers, such as Dell’s Ideastorm model, but Fogarty says the main difference is that Crowdcast is structured as a game, and as such can appeal to users within a company more than other approaches (for more on this idea, see our recent GigaOM post about why everything is becoming a game). Crowdcast did a Series A financing round in 2008 with Alsop Louie Partners, and is likely going to be raising another round sometime this year, according to Fogarty. The company’s software is used by a number of large companies, he said, including “a large retailer based in Arkansas,” as well as a major greeting card manufacturer, a video game company and a large investment bank.
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