In part one of Crowdsourcing and the Next Wave of Collaboration, we talked about the definition of crowdsourcing innovation, and its problems and successes. In part 2, we take a look at the maturity of both the practice and technology, as well where survey respondents were in their deployment of these solutions.

What is Crowdsourcing Innovation?

As we stated in part 1, Crowdsourcing or Open Innovation is about taking innovation out of the hands of the few, typically in the R&D lab, marketing or new product development personnel, and actively engaging increasingly larger portions of your own firm/organization, and ultimately, with sufficient maturity and experience, out into partners, suppliers and customers (in that order).

Current Maturity - Practice and Technology

It may be no surprise that the practice of Crowdsourcing Innovation on a large scale -- greater than hundreds of participants-- is tightly tied to the technologies relating to Web 2.0 and Enterprise 2.0. The ability to *scale* collaborative innovation is highly dependent on technology platforms to manage the entire process, assuming your collaboration skills and culture are up to the task.

Witness the Crowdsourcing ability of the Obama campaign in the last Presidential campaign -- powered entirely by the ability to motivate, coordinate and collaborate with millions of individuals towards a singular goal.

Or look at the success of commercial companies such as Proctor and Gamble, through their Connect+Develop program, an industry benchmark if there ever was one, with P&G now sourcing 50% of innovation from outside the organization.

Or examine Chubb & Son, a financial services company, who's Chief Innovation Officer, Jon Bidwell, I recently interviewed on the IAM Talking podcast series. While Chubb are focused primarily on employees only at the moment, in the first year of implementaiton they already have multi-million dollar successes to point to, and greater employee engagement as well. Broader "social media engagement" began just a few short months ago, with great results as well.

Without technology to manage the community, the discussion, the voting, vetting, submission and de-duplication processes, these respective Crowdsourcing success stories would perhaps not be impossible, but certainly, far more difficult, time-consuming and expensive to accomplish.

Comments from survey respondents on the technology front include:

"Our company and customer base are both very large, so we would need to target segments in order to be able to move quickly." - clear scalability and filtering issues

"Biggest concern is whether efforts generate good quality input. A small radical minority can certainly highjack any effort to generate input and ideas and use to promote their own (usually off-topic) agendas." - ability to filter, and recognition that "radical transparency" holds peril

"Need to appreciate the diversity of business problems it may be applied to but that the back-end evaluation techniques and metrics are not always the same. Prefer to view as 'virtual collaboration' with the option to scale the ecosystem up or down." - absolute tie to trends of SaaS/cloud, and that no single size fits all

State of the Crowdsourcing Nation

So, where do the respondents stand on Planned or Implemented Crowdsourcing for Innovation? In this case, we looked at 2 years ago (2008), current day (2010) and asked for a prediction as to targets for 5 years in the future (2015).

information architected-crowdsourcing-presentation-final-survey-data-planning_vs_implementing_2008_2010_ 2015.jpg

 information architected - crowdsourcing-presentation-final-survey-data - planning vs implementing 2008, 2010, 2015

In the left column, we can see that most were NOT doing anything with crowdsourcing/open innovation in 2008. That said, 16-24% had already engaged a portion of their employees.

In 2010, 54-56% have moved off of not being involved at all with employees, and are planning to tackle partners, customers, suppliers and employees, in that order.

Those who already have some skill with Crowdsourcing, started small, and started internally. Note that the IMPLEMENTED cut across the bottom has further expanded into employees FIRST, and outside crowds second.

At 5 years out, implementation is expected to have evened out across all of the potential communities, with customers and subsets of employees as the main targets, but in general, with crowdsourcing as at least a nascent, core capability.

Good News, Bad News

Realistically, it is still early days for Crowdsourcing of any type -- but as our research shows, the fear of falling behind the competition is a significant one. Can you afford to wait?


information architected - crowdsourcing-presentation-final-survey-data - competitor use of crowdsourcing

What's Your Uptake on Crowdsourcing?

Are you ahead or behind the curve? How are you approaching the technology to support your Crowdsourcing initiatives? Still much to learn -- so pipe up if you're involved or want to be.