There’s a lot not to like about the diminutive tyrant and usurper (according to his critics) that ruled over the French Empire from 1804 to 1815. The famous imperialist had a bad habit of ignoring treaties, emotionlessly sending thousands of young men to their deaths, and reinstated slavery in the French colonies across the Atlantic. But Napoleon also ended the disorder and lawlessness that characterized post-revolutionary France, and introduced the Napoleonic Code, influential in countless civil law jurisdictions around the world.
But perhaps the most important innovation of Emperor Napoleon, for modern small to mid-sized businesses anyway, was a way to tap into the expertise and talent of a nation of thinkers to achieve a common goal. At the time, Napoleon wanted a way to keep his troops well-fed during long campaigns. The result gave the world a new way to preserve food, and gave business an invaluable technique for streamlining creative tasks. We call this technique crowdsourcing.
Crowdsourcing For Small Businesses… And 19th Century Empires
The French have their fair share of innovations – King Louis XI owned one of the first indoor bar pool tables – but Napoleon took French innovation one step further with crowdsourcing. For those that are a little rusty in French history, we’ll begin with a quick rundown of Napoleon’s approach to crowdsourcing:
- 1795 – The French Government becomes alarmed at the difficulty of supplying edible food to French armies throughout Europe. Leaders offer people around the country a 14,000 franc prize to invent a way to preserve food for winter storage and long-distance shipping.
- 1804 – Napoleon assumes Emperorship of the French Empire, but continues the competition as no one has yet claimed the prize.
- 1811 – A French chef, confectioner, and distiller named Nicolas Appert publishes the Appert Method, a way of preserving food by sealing it in air-tight jars and boiling them in water for several hours.
So remember — every time you open a fresh can of soup or vegetables, you actually have Napoleon to thank. So what does all this have to do with small business?
Crowdsourcing With Microsoft Office 365
The idea of crowdsourcing is the innovation behind giant works like the Oxford English Dictionary and Wikipedia. In fact, you might be surprised to learn just how many major websites and businesses have been built through crowdsourcing. Just to name a few:
- Human Genome Project
- Second Life
Crowdsourcing is a fantastic way to get your customers involved in the creative process behind your business, cut production costs for your staff, efficiently outsource common tasks, and microtask tedious tasks. But one of the key components of successful crowdsourcing is having a cloud solution that allows you to quickly connect with the people handling your assigned tasks. For example, Vorsite offers products like SharePoint Online, a remote collaboration and document sharing service that allows you to take control of your email and servers. Services like Lync can also help you streamline web conferencing and chat, which can improve your business’ ability to communicate with workers quickly and efficiently.
So while many of Napoleon’s management tactics will do more to harm your business, using crowdsourcing like the French Empire can help you take the pressure off your team by eliminating tedious tasks, cut down on payroll, and eliminate on-site server maintenance and security costs. For more information on how crowdsourcing and Microsoft Office 365 can revolutionize the way you do business, contact Vorsite today.