The Future Is Crowd-sourcing

Six Tools to Help Your Company Capture and Capitalize on Innovative Ideas.

Corporate crowd-sourcing tools are here and ready for use.

For instance, if you have the tools to get a clear idea of what your customers want, crowd-sourcing tools can provide a far more effective way of responding to customer needs. If you use these tools well, you are far closer to your customers than you ever could have been before the tools existed. You are able to meet the real needs of those customers, which can be clearly expressed and understood and responded to. Here are six crowd-sourcing tools and platforms that your business can tap:

Here are six crowd-sourcing tools and platforms that your business can tap:

1) DISTRIBUTED INNOVATION PLATFORMS

Platforms to support innovation outside organizations include Innovative Exchange; Ideaken; crowd-sourcing expert Chaordix; open innovation service provider Nine Sigma; and Innocentive, which Eli Lilly & Co. uses to tap a whole world of people who have already come across the same issues that it encounters.

2) IDEA PLATFORMS

These are usually used within a company to gather, filter and source proposed ideas. They sometimes go under the guise of idea management software, alling employees to submit ideas for cost savings, new products, new service, or to process efficiencies. They then collectively assess, refine and build on those ideas to drive that organization forward. Examples are Spigit, which can support an external community; innovative management Web app IdeaScale; and mystarbucksidea.com.

3) INNOVATION PRIZES

Innovation prizes are challenges designed to catalyze new thinking and ingenuity, such as Electrolux’s Design Lab, the DARPA Urban Challenge, and the Cisco I-Prize, a competition in which Cisco is searching for its next billion-dollar business. Anybody anywhere can enter their products and ideas; others can vote on them, build on them, and make them more effective.

4) CONTENT MARKETS

These are platforms where people submit their content for others to purchase. Examples are Red Bubble, an online art community, and Threadless.

5) PREDICTION MARKETS

These are tools that aggregate many opinions through the classic “wisdom of the crowd” in order to make more effective corporate decisions. Useful tools include the business intelligence solutions of Crowdcast, which aggregate the knowledge of participants, and enterprise prediction market software like Consensus Point, with its Foresight platform.

6) COMPETITION PLATFORMS

These can be used if you’re seeking the best expertise in a specific area and want to choose from the work of many providers rather than hire just one. Examples are DesignCrowd, CrowdSpring, Guerra Creative, TopCoder and Squad Help.

—The author is globally recognized as a leading futurist, entrepreneur, keynote speaker, strategy advisor and bestselling author. He is founding chairman of four companies: Advanced Human Technologies, Future Exploration Network, The Insight Exchange and Repyoot. Access him on the Web at rossdawson.com.

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