The economic meltdown and subsequent recession have forced companies and government entities to look for innovative and unique ways to keep costs down; one of the methods many of them have started utilizing is crowd sourcing. Crowdsourcing can be used by leaders to find solutions to problems or challenges, to improve upon existing programs, or simply as a way to reach out to employees and other members of the community.
Companies like Justmeans.com offer businesses a chance to utilize its Challenge software to run sustainability, social innovation software, and philanthropic challenges that give business leaders access to 150,000+ creative thinkers, inventors, scientists, and engineers in the Justmeans.com community. Since its initial release, over one hundred companies have used the Challenge software in an effort to unearth new ideas, including: Green Mountain Coffee Roaster, the Financial Times, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
For a more Gun for Hire approach, some leaders are looking at IdeaConnection, a company formed by Scott Wurtele. IdeaConnection offers “open innovation”, a type of crowd sourcing where companies seeking a solution to a problem pay IdeaConnection a fee that is placed into a trust. IdeaConnection then submits this problem to as many as 1,000 experts in its network. Wurtele states that some of his experts are “eccentric geniuses who wouldn’t fit on the payroll” of many companies. These experts would be paid based on the results and ideas they present to the client.
Crowd sourcing can be used to solicit ideas from employees, as in the case of Spigit, whose platform EnterpriseSpgit, lets companies receive feedback from within the company itself. Pfizer successfully used EnterpriseSpigit when it asked for employee suggestions with regards to lowering costs, pursuing innovation, and creating new products. The idea is to engage existing assets (employees) in the day to day growth and expansion of a company to keep its direction fresh and on the cutting edge.
California lawmakers have gotten in on the act as they have launched a crowd sourcing website designed to ask the public for input on improving its tech strategy and implementation. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger issued an executive order calling for a drastic reduction in the state’s data center and energy footprint. California, devastated by the recession, desperately needs to find ways to limit its overhead costs in any department. Public ideas from entrepreneurs and IT specialists could streamline services and reduce costs across the board for the cash strapped state.
Business and government leaders are searching high and low for ideas, any ideas, that can cut down on expenses and shore up existing systems in an attempt to not just survive, but thrive in this new economic reality. Crowd sourcing can be a useful tool for digging up ideas from within an organizations ranks or for getting a fresh pair of eyes and minds working on issues.