How Enterprise-Grade Organizations Can Tap into the Groundbreaking Benefits of Crowdsourcing

Jeff Howe defined crowdsourcing as a “new pool of cheap labor: everyday people using their spare cycles to create content, solve problems, even do corporate R&D.” Truly, crowdsourcing is design thinking tailor-made for the 21st century. It combines multiple sources of talent to create something epic. It’s intrapreneurship at its best. It’s the revolution of revolutions, and businesses across the board are embracing it.

Take a look at some of the biggest names in their industries who have taken off with crowdsourcing. From Lego to Threadless.com, DeWalt, DHL, and even Manchester City FC, some major players are utilizing this concept of gathering outside, non-professional talent to maximize their business initiatives.

Crowdsourcing can be used to discover new ideas to improve your services, make your operations run smoother, and upgrade your marketing efforts. Do you want to tap into the ground-breaking benefits of crowdsourcing? Let’s dive right in to see what the experts are saying.

The Innovation of Crowdsourcing

So what exactly is crowdsourcing? Crowdsourcing is outsourcing a task to the larger, open-source community. This brand of innovation relies heavily on the concept that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Crowdsourcing can be managed on a large or small scale. Ford, General Electric, and Colgate are a few of the major corporations asking the general public for ideas. In this way, big brands turn regular consumers into brand advocates by getting them involved in the ideation process.

Smaller businesses can also take advantage of this concept. Connecting employees, departments, or individuals can transform the way everyone thinks about a problem simply by adding new information that employees hadn’t known previously. Bringing fresh perspective to a problem can yield radical innovations.

The Importance of Internal Disruption

While business disruption was once feared, modern businesses understand that some internal disruption can do a lot of good – it’s a part of the bigger digital transformation trend which the world in undergoing, and it can be great for business. By shaking things up internally, we give rise to new ways of looking at old problems, opening the door for radical innovations that revolutionize the industry or archaic business models that simply aren’t working anymore. This type of disruptive innovation encourages outside the box thinking that leads to real, positive, and productive change.

Assessing Your Company’s Potential for Disruptive Innovation

Okay, so crowdsourcing sounds pretty awesome. But how do you make it happen? Better yet, how do you make it work? Here are 6 steps to using crowdsourcing to create, define, or monetize on new lines of business:

Step #1: Set up the infrastructure

The first step in crowdsourcing for your LOB is setting up the system properly. Amazingly enough, if you create the infrastructure, then fans, employees, and consumers will contribute – think of it as “if you build it, they will come.” This means choosing a clear methodology and structure which is aligned to your specific company culture and processes. Allowing you to create easy, comprehensive, and quick feedback cycles, analysis, and data gathering.

Step #2: Choose the right technology

The right technology will make all of the above system elements jive. Features to look out for include shareability, easy implementation of new concepts and business practices across your organization, data collection, and comprehensive reporting tools – as the old saying goes “you can’t manage something unless you measure it.”

Step #3: Incentivize your audience

If there’s one thing that gets people involved, it’s probably free stuff. If there’s a second thing, then it’s definitely praise. Reward vs recognition – whichever works for your audience, it’s important to utilize. Host a contest or hackathon within your office or across social media to get people contributing.

Step #4: Evaluate data

Any participation on your system is usually good, but you need to be able to utilize the information that’s generated. Leading innovation software will help you design and launch crowdsourcing opportunities, and then enable you to extract the information from those hackathons, idea jams, and other innovations.

Step #5: Follow up

Make sure to follow up with and respond to your crowd. Nobody likes a one-way conversation.

Step #6: Cast your net far and near

While you want to attract the opinions of lots of people, including the general public, don’t forget about the massive amounts of untapped knowledge and talent you have sitting right under your nose. Include stakeholders, managers, and even entry level employees who should be involved in these discussions. You’ll be amazed at what can come out of these conversations.

Jump Starting Your Own Innovations

Liking the energy but still a little unsure on how to get things off the ground? Here are a few actionable tips to kickstart your crowdsourcing initiative:

  • First decide what your 3 core challenges are, and base your initiative around that
  • Ask for feedback about new products. Good companies build, improve, and strengthen their products using community feedback.
  • Ask employees for ideas/features/feedback/tweaks.
  • Leverage internal social networks to encourage cross-department powwows, bridging departments and employees who normally wouldn’t collaborate on ideas for new angles and better innovation. Don’t leave valuable information in the hands of a privileged few. Spread the wealth of knowledge, and watch new ideas flow.

Conclusion

Using crowdsourcing and idea management tools will allow your company can tap into the wealth of employee knowledge to discover new, successful ideas.

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