Where Do New Ideas Come From: Crowdsourcing Innovation

Innovative companies are turning to new tactics like crowdsourcing for everything from product development to engaging customers in marketing decisions. As crowdsourcing succeeds and grows in popularity, innovators and businesses are taking more provocative and bold steps to drive innovation. 

Frito-Lay recently utilized crowdsourcing and had consumers pick the next flavor of Lay’s potato chips as part of its “Do us a Flavor” campaign. Using social media and traditional-word-of mouth, it came down to Siracha v. Cheesy Garlic Bread v. Chicken and Waffles. Municipalities like St. Louis are calling on their citizens to help decide on projects to revamp the city.

Crowdfunding, a cousin of crowdsourcing, helps companies or projects raise funds that offer unique opportunities. Kickstarter, a funding platform for creative projects, is driving the success of initiatives such as Pebble, Elevation Dock and Gamestick. And, most recently, the producers of the television show Veronica Mars turned to Kickstarter to raise millions of dollars for a long hoped-for movie version of the story.

Big name companies focused on innovation are also getting in the crowdsourcing game. GE launched “Powering Your Home” as a means to get ideas for improving energy usage. And, HP’s Open Innovations Labs aims to bring together leading scientists, researchers and entrepreneurs to pursue breakthrough innovations through sponsored research programs, internships and fellowships.

Verizon has its version of crowdsourcing: The Powerful Answers Award. The Award is seeking ideas and solutions in healthcare, education and sustainability, and giving away $10 million in prizes. Some entrants will also have access to Verizon engineers and innovators, bringing the crowdsourcing to a new level for the company.             

For companies of any size looking to try crowdsourcing, Mashable provides tips for success.