Crowdsourcing is a powerful new way to gain innovative solutions. The term was coined to describe the process of outsourcing a task to an independent ‘crowd’ of experts who compete (or sometimes collaborate) to solve the problem. They are often rewarded for doing so. All sorts of organizations are using the power of the crowd. Here are some current examples of crowdsourcing in action:
Naming Force – If you need a name e.g. For your new business, product or website then you can crowdsource the assignment on this site. A crowd of ‘namers’ then submit name suggestions for your challenge. A cash prize is paid by the client to the person whose idea is chosen.
Threadless is a fashion company that’s had great success by asking people to upload T-shirt designs that site visitors then rate each week. Winning submissions get printed in limited editions, and the creators are rewarded with cash and site credits.
Innocentive is a company founded by Eli Lilley. It is a marketplace for science problems and solutions. Top companies like Proctor and Gamble, Boeing and Dupont post tough science problems on the site. A community of over 100,000 scientists from around the world compete to come up with solutions to the problems and can earn prizes of as much as $1million.
Topcoder. Clients approach Topcoder with tough software problems and Topcoder invites programmers from around the world to solve these problems over the Net. Topcoder now claims to be the world’s largest software development community with over a quarter of a million members.
Charities and Not for Profit
Mobile Volunteering is a site launched by the mobile service provider Orange. It asks for suggestions on how mobile technology can be used to improve the lives of disadvantaged people and charities. Visitors to the site can vote or comment on the suggestions.
News and Media
Openfile – Toronto’s OpenFile asks for story suggestions from readers. It then assigns journalists to follow up the stories. This collaborative approach to newsgathering is designed to uncover stories that might otherwise be missed and to generate content that better suits the local audience.
Dan 3.0. This is an interactive internet TV programme that allows viewers to influence how a story on TV develop. It’s about a young man called Dan Brown, who for one year has allowed his audience to control his life. Viewers can submit suggestions and vote online on what they want Dan to do. Suggestions so far include writing a letter to the US president, and visiting a viewer on her birthday.
These examples and many others show how you can harness the creative powers of a crowd to generate cool new ideas for your business problems.
With thanks to Springwise for finding some of these examples.
Paul Sloane writes and speaks on innovation. He facilitates ideation sessions for major corporates.