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January 19, 2018

The concept of crowdsourcing has been reinvigorated in the digital age. The ability to define a problem and then harvest the responses of a wide base of independent contributors has become immensely easier with the onset of social media, digital communications, and a new generation of consumers and employees who value engagement with businesses.

The phenomenon is most commonly associated with funding, or ‘crowdfunding’, due to the breakout success of businesses like Bitvore and Oculus Rift that got off the ground thanks to crowdsourced funding. Astute businesses, however, are using crowdsourcing as a means to drive innovation.

Crowdsourcing innovation is a sharp tactic and has been used as a clever way to refine products or services and engage directly with stakeholders, all at a low cost. One striking example is Starbucks who, with great success, introduced their own crowdsourcing platform and implemented around 300 ideas taken directly from their customers. Fiat, the Italian car manufacturer, designed and manufactured a concept car, the Fiat Mio, using crowdsourced inputs. Alongside delighting the media, car fans, and futurists, the ideas developed during the process continue to inform R&D and manufacturing at Fiat today.

Some of the most fruitful innovation crowdsourcing occurs internally, among the employees of a business. Often, building a culture of innovation and encouraging more internal collaboration are among the top objectives when engaging in innovation crowdsourcing. If you would like to know how internal and external crowdsourcing can help you achieve your business objectives, and learn the core steps for innovation crowdsourcing processes, read my whitepaper, Extending Your Innovation Toolkit – Crowdsourcing Ideas and Solutions.

Internal crowdsourcing usually revolves around a platform through which employees can communicate and collaborate. It enables dynamic interaction between diverse pockets of expertise in a business, simultaneously generating new insights, and maximizing employee engagement. By setting defined challenges and providing transparency to the thought process, the company has opened a productive dialogue between employees and executive leadership.

Employees already understand their own company and are almost always the most qualified to comment on its processes. Equally important is the fact that using internal innovators provides peace of mind about some of the legal and disclosure issues that can arise when outside parties present ideas. A well thought-out system to proactively harness your employees’ creativity could be the source of your next market-beating innovation.

Likewise, tapping into the designs and desires of the world at large can give your business an invaluable insight into the wishes of your customers. A gamified portal wherein innovative suggestions are rated by internal and external collaborative communities can become a hotbed of novel, competitive ideas. The time is ripe for an enterprise-level engagement with innovation crowdsourcing.

Courtney Wood leads thought leadership development for TCS’ M&A Services. Courtney has spent over 25 years in management consulting, supporting both large and early stage enterprises in producing meaningful outcomes by developing the right business strategies as well as aligned ‘people, process, and technology’ constructs and roadmaps to realize their transformational goals. Prior to consulting, Courtney spent four years in commercial lending and investment banking, as well as earned an MBA from Columbia Business School.



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