Collective intelligence refers to shared or group intelligence that is achieved when people work together to solve different problems as a group. The aim of using groups is based on the aspect that they offer better insight, provide solutions to various issues more efficiently, and offer better-explained answers than a single individual. Collective intelligence can be a valuable tool in improving the performance of companies. As companies continue to grow and implement the use of technology in their operations, data is collected using different interconnected platforms and devices; this generates massive amounts of data which is difficult to analyze (Maciuliene, 2014). However, exponential developments that have been experienced in the field of technology has introduced the use of computers in the processes; this eases the process of conducting computations and analyzing different sets of data. Collective intelligence is increasingly becoming popular among different companies where the organizations focus on embracing consensus, loose hierarchies and encourage team thinking in various departments. Collective intelligence provides companies with a wide range of advantages which are difficult to achieve without implementing the use of its concepts.
One of the factors contributing to the rise of collective intelligence is improved understanding of experiences and facts. Arriving at different conclusions through the use of collective intelligence involves extensive discussions; this provides room for evaluating various aspects and therefore allowing people to understand different facts and experiences. Depending on factors such as education and social background, some people understand particular concepts better than others; the more diverse the knowledge and experience of the team members, the more the team knows as a whole (Runsten, 2017). Specialist in different fields from the group might be consulted to provide insight on matters associated with their area of specialization; this makes it possible to gather expert opinion.
Collective intelligence also brings about the development of better ideas and options. Companies tap into the collective brainpower of individuals at different levels of the organization. When a group is sharing opinions, there are more ideas generated compared to a situation where a single top-level manager is making all the decisions. In such a scenario, there is less knowledge which brings about barriers associated a single point of control. In some cases, the decisions made by the manager might be unreliable. Collective intelligence helps in eliminating these type of challenges. Also, decisions made by an individual tend to favor the person, collective decision making brings about inclusivity; this is an essential factor in improving performance through eliminating discrimination.
Collective intelligence is an essential element in promoting team building. When teams engage in active participation, members can develop healthy relationships among themselves; this builds morale in the group. The concept of solving problems as a group allows members to acquire skills through sharing what they know and learning from their colleagues what they do not. Also, decisions are made through a democratic process as the conclusions are arrived at through consensus. Choices that involve every person are more acceptable and perceivable.
One of the methods that can be implemented in improving the quality of decisions generated through the use of collective intelligence is by diversifying the workforce. Making an organization diverse involves employing people from different races, gender, ethnic groups, age, citizenship status, sexual orientation, religion, mental and physical conditions. Companies, therefore, have to come up with hiring strategies that ensure the employees they hire resemble their customers in regards to these aspects. Achieving diverse teams can be challenging as it involves companies creating equal employment policies that provide a neutral platform for applicants from different backgrounds. However, to ensure the workers conduct their duties without conflicting or conflicts are solved as soon as they occur, the employees have to be provided with training on how to operate in a working environment that is diverse. Employees from different background have different points of views, and ways of doing things. Without proper training, normal operations in such an environment are characterized by high rates of conflict; this can affect company performance negatively.
Collective intelligence can also be achieved through the use of crowdsourcing; this is a type of participative online activity where people, institutions, profit, and non-profit companies request people from diverse backgrounds to engage in a voluntary undertaking of tasks that make it possible to gather ideas that promote collective intelligence (Salminen, 2015). The web provides a platform where it is possible to create social machines where different groups of people can interact online and come up with solutions that can only be achieved through the concerted effort of groups. (Hendler & Berners-Lee, 2010). Through participating in this tasks where crowds engage in bringing their experiences, knowledge, and resources entails mutual benefits, the people that provide the feedback that is, the users, receive the satisfaction of a given need. The needs might be in the form of economic requirements or development of individual skills, the initiators of the crowdsourcing services obtain and utilize the information acquired from the users.
The use of computers through the use of artificial intelligence (AI) is another factor incorporated in collective intelligence. In business AI is most entails the use of autonomous software to help in making decisions in an uncertain environment. The software has the capability of thinking ahead by automating procedures and operates for long periods to comply with the objectives that have been put in place (Weld et al., 2015). AI also has the ability of learning and implementing the concepts learned to provide solutions in the business world; this can also be accomplished by adhering to standards that have been formulated by the programmers or feedback obtained from humans. Combining the use of AI and collective intelligence helps in achieving results that would have been impossible to attain by either using AI or collective intelligence alone.
Despite the benefits obtained from collective intelligence concepts, the idea is also associated with various problems. One of its drawbacks is that it prolongs the decision-making process. In a company where only one person is in charge of making all the decisions, there is no consultation or discussion of ideas required. Some top-level managers can make correct choices by themselves. The success of a business is to a great extent dependent on accurate and fast decisions. Eliminating lengthy group decision-making processes might, therefore, offer a competitive advantage to companies. However, this only occurs if the choices are correct.
Collective intelligence also leads to additional costs for companies. Incorporating AI into a company’s procedures entails purchasing computers and software for the machines. Also, putting together teams that promote efficient collective intelligence might involve changing the hiring process of a company if the hiring method in use does not support the concept. Diverse groups have to be trained in ways of managing conflict due to the high rates of disagreements associated with people from different backgrounds working together. The chances of experiencing conflicts when dealing with people from the same social group are small as such group’s way of thinking and acting is almost the same; they are therefore unlikely to disagree on different aspects.
Another disadvantage of collective intelligence is that it favors the majority; this is because various ideas are implemented based on the number of people that support them. Though this method has a high probability of obtaining the desired results, it does not mean it is always correct. In some instances, the minority might provide the right solutions but their opinions end up being rejected as the number of people supporting the idea is too small. In such situations, a task might have to be repeated after the concept of the majority fails; this results in a wastage of both resources and time.
Collective intelligence presents various advantages and disadvantages. However, the benefits associated with the concept outweigh the shortcomings. For example, in regards to additional expenses related to implementing the method, companies should be willing to make short-term sacrifices for long-term benefits. Implementing an employee hiring system that promotes diversity and cost for purchasing computers and software that make it possible to use AI is only costly during the initial stages. The wide range of advantages achieved through these programs such as improved decision-making methods and the introduction of innovative ideas cannot be compared with the initial costs of acquiring the technology and the diverse workforce.
Lastly, making the correct decisions is more critical than making fast but wrong decisions. The wrong choices in some cases might take a long time to recover from; they might also cause irreversible damages to a business. It is therefore essential to use the right methods to make decisions by following steps that reduce the chances of making errors. However, these techniques might be time-consuming.