Innovation is no longer the domain of a chosen few companies and sectors. In an era of rapid technological and market change, companies of all sizes...
How can crowdfunding, crowdsourcing and co-creation help businesses innovate?
Traditional business structures and processes which were once one-way and controlled by the company now have to adapt to challenges that technology presents. Strategic problems are no longer assigned to one internal team to resolve – now many problem solvers can be called upon.
Due to technological advances, people and businesses have a voice. They can share ideas and reach audiences in ways never possible before. It is for this reason that companies simply cannot afford to operate in a bubble detached from the rest of its environment. For companies to remain competitive and be the first to market with new ideas, they must be aware of new routes to innovation.
First there is the introduction of crowdfunding. Kickstarter – an online platform that allows anyone to pledge money to any type of project – demonstrates that communities pulling together can now start to compete with multi-nationals due to the unexplored capital available. In 2013, 3 million people pledged $450 million from 214 countries to Kickstarter projects – that equates to $913 a minute funding 19,911 projects.
Next we have crowdsourcing – the online gathering of groups of people to share their knowledge and expertise. If two minds are better than one, imagine what thousands on minds could do. How could their connections and networks open doors?
And then there is co-creation. Co-creation involves businesses acting as the facilitator between the contributors which could be employees and customers for example. This could be in the form of platforms being used to link the different stakeholders or as a business service.
What do companies need to consider when taking these new routes to innovate?
New routes to innovation can open up once unthinkable possibilities. Nevertheless, there is also a lot of skepticism and questioning.
- How can crowdsourcing be integrated in to the innovation process?
- What can the crowd do better than experienced and expert employees?
- How can the company protect itself from sensible data going public?
- How can businesses overcome confidentiality issues?
As more and more companies experiment with new innovation processes, it is these types of issues that will need addressing.
Examples of companies innovating with crowdsourcing and co-creation
- In early 2013, global retailer, Tesco, involved its online community to invent the world’s first socially created wine.
- Danish utility company Aarhus Water and Unilever both ran water innovation competitions last year with Aarhus Water looking for ideas to redesign its Egaa wastewater treatment plant and Unilever running a competition to design the sustainable shower of the future.
- Procter & Gamble has its own “co-creation channel” on their website which runs innovation contests to co-create with creative thinkers and creators around the world.
- FedEx worked together with surgeons, patients and medical device suppliers, to improve transportation and delivery of live tissues for organ donation, resulting in a sophisticated package (SenseAware) that tracks temperature, pressure, humidity and location.
Is it time your business or brand started to think about new routes to innovation?
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