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Crowdsourcing: mission for the masses

18-Apr-2013

So-called crowdsourcing is on the verge of a major breakthrough this year. This is due, in no small part, to Deutsche Messe AG, the company behind the world’s biggest IT fair, CeBIT. With ‘open innovation’, the fair organiser provides a virtual platform in which creativity is harnessed to come up with ideas. Deutsche Messe AG offers the platform to all companies that are seeking access to IT-minded target groups. The collaboration with external creative minds via the Internet calls for new open processes and creates a new kind of participation which promotes interactive sharing of information with the target groups.

The crowd saves money

Outsourcing work and creative processes to the online masses is the foundation of crowdsourcing. This approach can save companies that are looking for a new logo or marketing term a great deal of money. What’s more, the ideas that come from many thousands of Internet users may even be more creative and suitable than those from a small, internal specialist team. However, companies using a crowdsourcing platform need to ensure the community is looked after and ‘gently push’ to use its full potential. Crowdsourcing has various subcategories, such as crowdfunding (the online community financing a project together), co-creation (the community creating a piece of work together) or microworking (the community performing smaller tasks which are all brought together to produce an overall result). Partners, advisers, suppliers and customers are involved more intensively and are part of a shared, networked process. Consequently, the boundaries between companies and organisations are becoming less finite.

Partners, advisers, suppliers and customers are involved more intensively and are part of a shared, networked process. Consequently, the boundaries between companies and organisations are becoming less finite.

Help for SMEs

For smaller companies in particular, crowdsourcing is an ideal way of seeking solutions in a cost-effective manner. The company can identify a problem and find an appropriate platform to seek crowdsourced input. The task is then published online and appropriate incentives attached to it. It doesn’t always have to be money, material goods or something produced by the company itself can often be as effective as a monetary value. The ideas submitted are then examined and the best solutions are announced and rewarded.

The range of options is diverse

Various platforms exist that specialise in different business sectors for companies looking for crowdsourced input. For instance, the company 99designs specialises in pitches for brand names and logos, where designers submit their suggestions to the platform. A less specialist service is Mechanical Turk from the online giant Amazon. Companies post various tasks on the marketplace and these are performed by workers throughout the world. Indiegogo has now overtaken KickStarter as the world’s largest global funding program. InnoCentive focuses on complex scientific problems and, finally, Innovation Exchange (IX) is an open innovation marketplace used by global corporations to solve demanding tasks. Of course, there are many other companies operating in this relatively new and exciting market, but it seems as though the future belongs to new crowd intelligence.