Eight years have passed since Jeff Howe’s pioneering article ‘The Rise of Crowdsourcing’ in Wired magazine. Since then, crowdsourcing has had a great deal of exposure – it showed its political potential when protestors used it during the Arab Spring.
Crowdsourcing’s uses are not just confined to political unrest. Through Open Innovation, a process whereby a company or entrepreneur ‘outsources’ an idea or problem to a group of people, has picked up tremendous steam over the last couple of years. It allows companies to pool ideas from people from all over the world in the hope that their varying perspectives will culminate into actionable plans.
You may be asking yourself, what’s in it for the contributors? Well, it turns out an awful lot.
Massachusetts based crowdsourcing specialists, Innocentive, have been specialising in Open Innovation since 2001. In that time, they’ve managed to entice over 300,00 ‘solvers’ from nearly 200 countries around the globe. They have solved problems for multinationals’ like EMC, Thomson Reuters and Procter and Gamble.
The challenges are both real and highly profitable for those that come up with a credible solution. Just a quick browse through their ‘challenge centre’ brings up cases that pay out $50,000 – it’s no wonder then that businessman are clamouring for a piece of the action. Not only do they foster competition through their handsome reward scheme, a ticket to the ‘Winning Solvers’ group is an accomplishment that will have any prospective employer raring to get you on-board.
It’s a win-win scenario for everyone involved and shows how Open Innovation can champion competition and ultimately provide companies with the insights to elevate themselves above the competition. It’s important to add that Open Innovation isn’t just about finding a solution to lowering profits margins and high employee turnover, in 2008 they worked in partnership with SunNight Solar to invent a dual purpose lamp/flashing that would help people who were living in areas without electricity.
One thing’s for sure, Open Innovation and the competition that it allows for, gives crowdsourcing a real push in the right direction. Through competition, there is no question that Open Innovation will continue to be a viable form of problem solving for anyone who’s willing to give it a go.