by Jon A. Fredrickson Vice President, Chief Innovation Officer
Every organization should have a ready list of questions for crowdsourcing platforms, especially if you have never done Crowdsourcing before. If you have tried and the results were not what you expected, it’s even more important to have a better list of questions, based on your prior experiences, for platforms.
The obvious simple questions about platform costs, time from design to solutions, and methodology of the platform, immediately shoot to the front of the line when an organization does not know what else to ask about. There are certain (key) questions that many organizations pass over and, if ignored or are forgotten, could lead to partnering with the wrong platform, one that is not fit to the challenges your organization faces.
If your organization is considering open innovation (and it should be!) or needing a “do-over” with a better platform that fits your needs, here are a few questions you should be asking.
What is the ROI of Open Innovation?
The fact is that everyone measures it differently! For InnoCentive clients, in a report done by Forrester, the ROI was 182% in under 3 months and 79% in under 2 months. If that sounds good to you, look at these reports based on InnoCentive’s work with Essity/SCA and Syngenta. These type of results allow technical staffs to work smarter on applying crowdsourced solutions to business problems, rather than resorting to traditional trial and error.
Can I remain Anonymous (Hidden in plain sight)?
Any platform you work with should be willing and able to keep your identity anonymous from the general public, and your competitors as well as the solvers providing your solutions. InnoCentive understands that R&D and innovation problems are often highly sensitive, so make sure the platform you are working with is willing to respect that and has experience in providing this capability. With countries actively stealing IPs, InnoCentive has safely and securely protected it for our clients through anonymity.
What About Intellectual Property?
The growth of innovation would surely be stunted if it weren’t for the protection provided by patents and intellectual property laws. When you crowdsource solutions for a product, service, etc., you want to be sure that your organization owns the solution that is presented as a solution. InnoCentive has used proven agreements for IP transfer and licensing since 2001 that gives our clients the confidence, they can trust that they can acquire IP and protect their own.
What About Awards for Solutions vs. Payments for Work?
For decades, people have been paid for work whether it created success or a solution to a problem or not. The world has changed with bright minds and free agents looking to solve problems that matter.
The platform you choose should be able to design your challenge with specific success criteria you need met for a solution you award. The platform you choose should have experienced design experts writing your challenge that is married to the IP structure and presented to a globally diverse audience, which the platform provider manages.
Who Are the “Solvers” and How Diverse is the Crowd?
When sourcing solutions from “the crowd,” it’s impossible to know every single person who will be working on your innovation issue. You should still be able to ask the platform provider for a cross section of their solvers they have working with them. If a platform provider tells you they “will build a website and a crowd you own for all your challenges,” you will quickly lose the value of a global, diverse and experienced crowd. Build it and they will come does not work as a strategy.
InnoCentive manages and has nurtured the world's largest network of more then 400,000 solvers , most of these Solvers have advanced degrees (PhD’s, Masters, etc.) and many years of experience in multiple industries.
One important thing to keep in mind: the solver for your innovation problem will likely not need to have a degree in a field related to your problem, nearly 80% of awarded solvers today come from outside the norm of education and experience that you hire.
One of the best outcomes from embracing open innovation is that the solution can come from anywhere, from anyone, from any background. Many of InnoCentive’s clients have awarded and found success with solutions provided by people who the organization would never imagined existed or could solve their problem!
How Does the Process Work?
Don’t be afraid to ask for specifics. There is more to open innovation than simply stating your problem to the crowd. You must ask the right questions to get the right answers. That is a large part of the value we provide at InnoCentive. We not only give you access to our ever-expanding network of solvers, we also help you identify the real problem, formulate the right questions (in the form of our “Challenges”) that help you get the solutions you are looking for.
Have more questions about our process and ROI? We are always willing to talk about how we can help your organization. Contact our team today to find the answers you seek.