It's difficult to measure with any real precision how much the Internet has changed the way we do business and live life. One such way is the concept of 'crowdsourcing.' In an era when garnering the assistance of venture capitalists is increasingly difficult, due to tremendous competition, crowdsourcing can often be used to get a company or idea off the ground without that elusive help. But crowdsourcing has moved far beyond merely collecting money. It's now a viable way to innovate.
Innovation via crowdsourcing allows you to leverage a virtually unlimited pool of minds, viewpoints, expertise, and experience. Need a team of engineers with specializations in hydraulics or databases? Put it out there into cyber space and watch as brilliant and qualified engineers and similar specialists weigh in with their concepts and ideas.
In this instance, crowdsourcing can be used to mean an open forum that goes worldwide, or simply an in-house endeavor wherein all of your workforce is allowed to see the project details and offer their input in the innovation. Use whichever method best works in your organization. Just be mindful that making an innovation public also opens the doors to competitors, and if those competitors are better funded or quicker to market, you could lose your claim on the idea completely.
Here are some of the most powerful ways that crowdsourcing can be used to take an innovation from the concept stage to the stages of marketability and profitability.
Crowdsourcing is an Easy, Inexpensive Way to Determine Interest in the Innovation
Dedicating an entire team of workers to innovation means that those
workers get a lot less other productive work done. Spreading the innovation
across the organization means more fresh perspective and
less wasted time hovering over the old drawing board.
Simply put, any innovation that generates lots of buzz is likely a good one. If little interest is shown in a concept within the communities that have the highest interest in the matter, then it's probably not a good idea. If you decide to crowdsource an innovation, you can judge with some degree of accuracy exactly how viable it might be as a finished product. Did lots of people jump on the concept quickly and begin offering helpful ideas to forward the project right away? That probably means you're onto something. Did you have to nudge, beg, and cajole people into offering input and advice? Then it might not be an idea worth pursuing.
Crowdsourcing is an Opportunity to Refine and Perfect Great Ideas
Ideas are rarely born fully mature. Most appear as nebulous at best, and need quite a bit of refining and nurturing until they become a fruitful design. Crowdsourcing allows you to take advantage of the industry's expertise, experience, and ingenuity. Likely, some of the participants have done something similar enough in the past to know what will and what won't work. This ready understanding can shave months or years off of the trial and error phase of a new product.
The experience and knowledge by some will supplement the experience and knowledge offered by others. In the end, you have the brilliance of any number of qualified resources, and the final product will showcase that expertise. No one person can know everything there is to know about a topic, even if they are a leading expert in the field.
Have you ever heard of the truck that got stuck under an overpass, stumping all of the engineers and first responders on the scene? A child had the idea to let the air out of the tires, freeing the truck. A great idea doesn't always come from a trained, experienced professional. Sometimes someone outside that realm of training, who has no preconceived notions about the way things ought to be, can see obvious flaws and deliver unbiased ideas that become the missing piece of the development puzzle.
Crowdsourcing is a Sound Method for Funding a Project
Most ideas aren't killed because they are truly bad. Many great ideas die because the group or organization that conceptualized them lacks the money to push them through the expensive phases of prototyping, testing, troubleshooting, and inevitably production. Crowdsourcing is a great way to combine the resources of various interested parties and thereby push through a project that would have otherwise languished in the pile of 'to do's' that never actually get done. This is even true of an in-house development project.
For example, say the research and development department lacks the funding to push through a new project, but when other stakeholders in the organization see its potential, they are willing to set aside part of their departmental budgets to see it through. An all-for-one-and-one-for-all attitude towards innovation can be the difference between the organization that is able to revolutionize the industry and the one that struggles to compete.
Crowdsourcing is an Excellent Means for Mass Marketing New Products
Bringing new products to market and getting the word out about your
new concept can be expensive and slow. Adding more people to the mix
of mouths getting the word out makes the process faster and more
potent. People get excited about things they were a part
of, much more than just any old product you churn out.
When the participants in a crowdsourced innovation see that the product is ready for market, they have a vested interest in getting the word out. Even participants that have made a relatively small contribution to its completion are excited to promote their work. This can result in sales leads that you might never have been able to reach with a marketing campaign. When the entire organization feels like a part of the action, then everyone will do their part to promote the product and proclaim its virtues to the masses.
Innovation isn't easy, or everyone would be doing it. Innovation is hard work, takes time, and often gets stalled due to a lack of fresh ideas and inspiration. The more people you get on board, the more fresh perspective you can interject into any endeavor. Crowdsourcing can be the key to unlocking the true innovative potential of your organization. Learn even more about innovation and how to create a corporate culture of creative thought when you download the whitepaper: The Execution of Innovation: What You Need to Know. It is your free gift from HYPE Innovation.