Crowd Sourcing and Innovation

Crowd sourcing has become one of the marketing industry buzz words over the past few years, but what exactly is meant by the term "crowd sourcing"? In layman's terms, crowd sourcing is the act of taking a job traditionally performed by a designated employee and out-sourcing it to a large group of people in the form of an "open call."

Many companies and organizations see crowd sourcing as problematic and as a poor source for innovation. A common view point is that if you share a problem with the masses, you will receive hundreds, maybe even thousands of responses, most of which are completely unusable and not applicable to the problem at hand. Granted, there may be a few innovative ideas that result, but it is extremely time consuming to extrapolate the most useful information and ideas from a true "open call."

So, if there's a chance that companies will receive unusable information and ideas, why would companies and corporations ever use crowd sourcing? The answer is quite simple. If done correctly and efficiently, crowd sourcing can be overwhelmingly successful.

Do you remember seeing a Pepsi commercial during last year's Super Bowl? Don't worry if you do not rememberů you didn't because there wasn't one. Pepsi changed its marketing strategy to focus almost entirely on social media, which crowd sourcing plays an integral role.

Pepsi's marketing initiatives have proven that crowd sourcing can be overwhelmingly successful and profitable for companies. Still, many corporate leaders are skeptical of the use of crowd sourcing. Corporate leaders often view crowd sourcing as a waste of time, difficult to implement and oversee. It is this view that makes crowd sourcing appear to be an unprofitable solution. The fact of the matter is that crowd sourcing is most successful when the program is fully supported by management. Second, crowd sourcing produces a wide variety of innovative ideas that would assist companies in their innovation initiatives, marketing campaigns, and product development, but most companies do not have the infrastructure in place to utilize the crowd sourcing generated ideas.

Numerous companies over the past few years have been hugely successful with crowd sourcing technology. Companies that have successfully implemented crowd sourcing technology include Unilever, Coca-Cola, General Mills, and Chiquita. Linux, arguably the most efficient and easy to use computer operating system, has been almost completely built through the utilization of crowd sourcing. Management at these companies understand the value that can be found in the innovative minds of its consumer and has built an open network, crowd sourcing technology program to monitor the creativity of the consumer.

Technology has allowed companies to reach out to more people, both internally and externally, than ever before. So, the question is, how can you implement crowd sourcing technology to benefit your business?