Crowdsourcing creates an environment less encumbered by flat organizational hierarchies or dependence upon top-down directives. It is not an isolated phenomenon, but a well-used method of outsourcing to generate enriched data resources for previously internal tasks of problem resolution or product development. This is a follow-up to our original "5 Examples of Companies Innovating with Crowdsourcing" piece.
Dell -- Dell's creation of the IdeaStorm crowdsourcing site is an extension of the firm's chief operating philosophy - bypassing middlemen in relations with consumers. IdeaStorm allows the firm to talk directly with customers. Since 2007, it has received in excess of 16,000 crowdsourced ideas; 500 of them have been implemented. A newer site - StormSessions - is even truer to the basic premise of crowdsourcing. Rather than simply field contributors' ideas on any subject they (customers) believe is worth discussing, Dell generates the essential hypothesis or assertion, and allows participants to freely discuss their responses and propose solutions to the specific topic. Finally, in 2012, the idea Extensions options were offered, promoting collaboration through comments on contributors' original ideas. IdeaStorm's transparency and generally rapid response-time spurs open innovation through crowdsourced collaboration.
Lego -- While maintaining a strong internal open-innovation program, toy-manufacturer Lego also has initiated a mutual crowdsourcing venture with its Japanese partner, Cuusoo. This project was implemented in 2008, to actively seek open product concepts. Contributors upload their ideas to the designated website, where they are evaluated by anyone else logged-on; participants' comments represent the beginning of potential collaboration. Often taking the form of R&D prize challenges, ideas receiving 10,000 or more supporting comments are then reviewed by Lego for possible product development. For instance, the Fall 2013 competition generated the largest quantity of qualifying projects since the site's inception, with seven new projects moving from proposal to product development.
Phillips -- Royal Phillips is a Dutch diversified technology firm manufacturing healthcare, consumer-lifestyle and lighting products. Its Simplyinnovate website seeks crowdsourced contributions for new product ideas. The site specifically suggests that participants "Collaborate with Phillips to bring your ideas to life. The firm brands itself as people- and customer-centric, and promotes crowdsourced open innovation to develop superlative customer relations management (CRM), as well as keep abreast of consumer-trends affecting the markets it serves. However, unlike many firms, Phillips maintains a comparatively confidential demeanor with crowdsourcing, emphasizing internal work as much as open portals.
Samsung -- Headquartered in Seoul, South Korea, tech-firm Samsung last year launched the world's largest crowdsourcing facility in Palo Alto (CA.). It seeks flexible open innovation solutions for many of its tech and electronic products - smart-cameras, semi-conductors, flexible screen technologies, etc. It has also recently partnered with crowdsourcing-leader Marblar to use NASA patents to innovate a range of new tech-projects. In this way, Marblar benefits from Samsung's program of crowdsourced innovation, using the Samsung-base to generate ideas for repurposing existing products and technologies as new products. Samsung seeks similar collaboration with other firms and interested individuals.
The U.S. Army -- Commercial firms are not the only organizations accessing crowdsourced participation. Academic and governmental entities are also active. Seeking to improve daily operations, the Army has established a new website to acquire open-called project ideas useful to its purposes. Collaboration between military personnel is encouraged to develop crowdsourced solutions to the logistical problems inherent in maintaining the current standing army and its affiliates; developing better military equipment and supplies is a particular focus. Soldiers who use current equipment are in the best position to describe what might be done to improve its function, something of considerable importance under battlefield or training conditions. The openly-innovated ideas can save lives and thus generate exceptional utility for military service personnel. Unlike the collaborative websites of businesses, participation in the Army's crowdsourcing site is open only to authorized personnel, those presently serving their country as soldiers, officers, engineers or designers of military equipment.