Crowdsourcing is the practice of engaging a crowd or group for a common goal. It is a core element for adapting and maintaining a innovation strategy. Crowdsourcing can take place on many different levels and across various industries.
The idea of crowdsourcing is based on a practice that nowadays is very popular, rather than relying on a few experts to solve specific innovation problems, you open up the process to the crowd. A common practice that companies follow is to post the problem on a web platform and invite for solutions, sometimes these companies offer back a significant prize. Another very common practice is the open source software projects, in which volunteers contribute to developing a product or a system.
The advantages of crowdsourcing are many. By inviting a large number of people to solve a specific problem or to undertake a task, most of whom you probably could not have found on your own, you increase the probability of developing a novel solution. New technologies and social media support crowdsourcing so that start-ups and companies have now access to new ideas, solutions, opportunities, deeper consumer engagement in a very low cost.Internet and social media have brought companies closer to their stakeholders.
“Crowds are a hit. Millions of people, connected by the Internet, are contributing ideas and information to projects big and small. Crowdsourcing, as it is called, is helping to solve tricky problems and providing localized information. And with the right knowledge, contributing to the crowd — and using its wisdom — is easier than ever.” -The New York Times
We have also to keep in mind that crowdsourcing works better for some kind of problems than for others. For instance, it requires fast and efficient ways to test a large number of potential solutions. If testing is very time consuming an costly then you need some other approach.
Another practice is to involve consumers in the innovation process. Some people in the business world believe that close collaboration with customers reveals insights that can lead to novel offerings. But others say that working to closely with customers will blind you to opportunities for truly disruptive innovation. At the end, everything comes to strategy matters and the goals that you are trying to achieve.
This new way of doing things – crowdsourcing, crowdfunding, co-creation, collaboration, and open innovation – is challenging business models and workings of organizations across the board, offering an immense opportunity to rethink and reinvent conventional processes.