Wisdom of the Crowds – Concept will Change Your Business

Written by on June 28th, 2009

The first business I started while in college, I called Aardvark Studios.

I’ve never been very creative when it comes to naming a business so after days of searching for the right name, Aardvark stuck.   We took pictures of graduates when they received their diplomas on graduation day, and then mailed a free proof to each graduate, giving them an opportunity to order enlargements.  By the time I sold the business, 25 years later, we were photographing about 200,000 graduates each year.

So I had to laugh when I saw a story in the New York Times about a company founded in 2007 called Aardvark.    The firm was jumping into the online advice business, the same business that Microsoft’s new Bing has entered, Hunch and Yahoo’s Answers.  Aardvark’s twist however is it’s among the first that provides an intelligent way to reach out to authorities on subjects within your circle of friends.

The second thing that makes Aardvark different from others is the answers are created real time and specific to your question only.   When you pose a question like:

  1. What wine goes good with chicken?
  2. What’s the best grad school for someone interested in marketing?
  3. What’s the best computer for my 15 year old daughter?
  4. Where do I go when I visit Italy this year?
  5. Which mower should I get to mow an acre of fairly flat land?
  6. What do I have to look out for when I buy a new car?

Aardvark fires out the question through your Facebook friends and their friends and then delivers the response to you through your IM.

What it tries to do is target those with the best chance of answering the question.   Instead of blasting the question to everyone you know, it sends a limited number at a time so not to over burden the entire system.   It also utilizes information from other social networking profiles to match interests, demographics characteristics and other factors.

If no one answers a question, Aardvark continues to broaden the group of people until it gets an answer for you.  If you are like me a response usually invokes additional questions so Aardvark enables the person asking the question to respond to the person who answered it with additional questions.

Like any other tool, the more people that use it the more powerful it will become.  When you sign up,  you will be asked to share 3 areas you are knowledgeable  on.  This helps the system know which type of questions to send to you.

So how will this change your business?

This kind of tool will affect how your products and services are sold.  Consumers will still be influenced by advertising but they will learn to go to their network for advice on which product to buy.  It will help your staff find quick answers from others within your company.   The world is getting increasingly more complex.  A tool like this will help your staff reach out to others in and outside your business to gain quick answers to problems they are facing.

And if you are looking for a job, it will instantly put you in touch with the right people who can help you!

The end result is, decisions will be made faster, based on more experience.

So I have one question to ask Aardvark.   When I owned my photography business, nearly every week, someone asked me, “Why did you name your company Aardvark?”

So Aardvark, “Why did you name your business Aardvark?”