Tuesday, April 26, 2011

An example of prediction markets

For the British royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, here's one of the most interesting odds listed at Bodog.com
Royal Wedding 2011 - Which of these guests will be seen crying during the ceremony? Tears must be visible for winner
Carole Middleton (Mother of Kate)3/2
Philippa Middleton (Sister of Kate)5/2
Michael Middleton (Father of Kate)10/1
The Queen12/1
Prince Charles25/1
Prince Harry25/1
Prince Philip25/1

Prediction markets

Prediction markets are only effective if a lot of people participate.  What are the best ways to encourage more traders and trading within internal company prediction markets?

As Cowgill suggested, we should combine financial rewards (cash, gift certificates etc.) with other incentives: social rewards, processes, infrastructure, and even perception.

Social rewards play a key role here since usually play money is used instead of real money and financial incentives are very decent. For these reasons, we should not make it anonymous. Everyone should know other players so that they have incentives to play better and more seriously. People are as competitive and caring their "faces" in games as in work and life situations. 

For processes, a market and its outcomes should be selected so that most, if not all, people are interested in the market and have some uncertainty about the outcomes. This would attract more people like Dolores Haze, who stated "It didn't tell me anything I didn't know; it just confirmed my intuition."

Infrastructure can be very broad but some specific examples are: 1) make the user interface very simple and at the same time attractive and 2) provide various tools and data for each market and its outcomes to help users get started and do further research.

Perception of prediction market participation is also important. Some people may be concerned that if they participate very actively, their co-workers may think they are not doing their "real" jobs. Therefore, specify the maximum time they can spend at work for this activity and then use their non-work time. This can discourage some people from participating but then help many more people participate actively and confidently.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


What are the similarities and differences between a community-driven product development process and a traditional product development process within a firm?

- Both go through basic development phases such as design, production, marketing, distribution, and customer services (though the community-driven one engages community tremendously in several phases, especially design and marketing).
- Both try to satisfy customer needs, either via formal market research as in traditional process or through community voting as in community-driven product.
- Both need to find more ways to bring in new customers such as rewarding referrals (though the community-driven one has users refer to others through links on their own blogs or via social networks instead of referring to others traditionally in person or via phone).
- Community-driven product development process engages a great variety of activities performed by the community as in the Threadless case: submitting designs, critiquing submitted designs, blogging about their daily lives, posting songs and videos inspired by the designs and most importantly purchasing t-shirts. In contrast, a traditional one is typically constrained by activities performed by the firm itself and involves no or limited community activities. For example, the latter has a team of designers and after some market research, comes up with new designs, and picks a few that it considers the best itself. The only community activity for the latter is to purchase whatever company designers (not "community" designers) make.
- A website for community-driven products is used not only for selling products but also for varying other services to meet different needs of the community. As in Threadless, people go to the website to buy t-shirts, to use the site to practice design skills and get feedback from fellow artists, to try to win design prizes, to interact with other consumers and designers, and to participate in blogs. A website for traditionally developed products is mainly for selling and might go as far as allowing buyers to comment and vote on products.
- For marketing, a traditional process pays for ads on public mass media such as TV, magazines, or radio. Recently, these companies also pay for ads on the Internet. For community-driven ones such as Threadless, they exploit less expensive and arguably more effective methods such as word-of-mouth marketing and press coverage as "the two major sources of Threadless community expansion."

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


LinkedIn recently hit 100M users. If you were in charge at LinkedIn, what would be your strategic goals for the next several years?  How would you achieve them?

LinkedIn has been doing great and in order to keep the momentum, it needs to stay ahead with some strategic goals for the next several years.

First, it should attract more professionals by focusing on what it has done well, PNS and by providing more relevant services such as for a certain skill or career, what degrees, certifications, or tests you need to consider. It can try to add some SNS features but there are 3 cautions. First, it can start just some basic features to see how users react. If it receives encouraging feedback, it can expand more. Otherwise, if it experiences an overall negative feeling, then stop. Second, when introducing SNS, it should be separate from PNS. It should provide a separate tab that directs users to a different page where users in the PNS services have to obtain mutual acceptance before becoming connected to others.

Second, it should open up its platform to third parties to bring in more services, fresher ideas, and ultimately, more users. It is just a matter of time since this is a trend and it proves beneficial to companies. Obviously, it needs to take cautious steps but should not avoid that. It needs to control the quality and the relevance of services. Also, privacy is crucial to build and maintain trust so a well-balanced strategy of openness and security is required.

Finally, it should partner with other companies that provide valuable services. It has already worked with several ones but it needs to explore more. For example, resume critiques, image building, and rental services. Based on the popularity (how many users use a service and how frequently they use etc.), it can list services in order of popularity, innovation, and relevance.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


How do Wikipedia’s processes for creating and modifying articles ever lead to high-quality results? In other words, since anyone can easily edit Wikipedia, how is it that good (and usually accurate) content emerges?

As the top-ranked science journal Nature compared the accuracy of science entries in Wikipedia and online version of Encyclopedia Britannica on the same set of 42 science articles in late 2005, the former had 162 errors while the latter had 123. This is quite interesting given the fact that Wikipedia content is generated by the public and free while the other is considered the hallmark for factual authority and very expensive.

There are several reasons behind the relatively accurate content in Wikipedia. First, most people who dedicate their time and effort to creating and/or editing have some knowledge in the subject they write about and more importantly, are interested in sharing knowledge with others. Second, people, by nature, feel good when they voluntarily share something with others. Third, each person's knowledge is limited but if people contribute, the content will get richer, more comprehensive, and more accurate. Finally, if people make mistakes or intentionally put incorrect or false information, all it takes to delete or revert to an older version with better content is less than a few seconds, just hitting a button. This concept has been leveraged in several commercial tools such as Confluence that helps thousands of organization work collaboratively and more productively.

Another person got fired because of his Twitter comments

From CNN:
"The six-figure voice-over job with benefits opened up after Aflac fired comedian Gilbert Gottfried for his fowl, er foul, Twitter comments regarding the Japan earthquake. The comedian later apologized."

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Social media

In general, how should organizations deal with issues posed by user-generated content and other information spread over social media?

Today, social media has significant impact on organizations. One individual transaction with one customer can be known to millions of people around the world and change organizations in a positive or negative way in several aspects: reputation, finance, and even their own organization cultures.

Organizations should deal with these issues in various forefronts:
- Be aware of the power of user-generated content and information spread over social media. It's hard to accept the fact that organizations do not completely control messages that are delivered to the public anymore.
- Overhaul organization cultures for internal deficiencies or weaknesses and improve or transform organization cultures. Sooner or later, they will need to provide a place to have direct 2-way contact with customers and when time comes, they can mitigate risks of getting too many negative feedback or backfire.
- Provide a means via social application technologies for customers and employees to get involved in organization activities: from ideas to implementation to feedback.
- Have resources dedicated to the social application and be proactive in delivering organization messages via announcements, blogs, and programs. When issues emerge, resolve as quickly and appropriately as possible.
- Be creative in getting customers involved and tolerant with necessary changes both external and internal.