Unlocking the power of crowdsourcing
Accessing new ideas and innovations at lower cost is possible with crowdsourcing. Tap on IPI's Online Marketplace to reach the right crowd.
It’s been said that “two heads are better than one” and “many hands make light work”. These phrases allude to the power of crowdsourcing—a combination of the words ‘crowd’ and ‘outsourcing’—whereby a person or organisation enlists the collective resources of the masses. Unlike outsourcing, however, members of the crowd are not part of a formal team or group, neither are they confined to a specific geographical location.
Most of us may be familiar with one form of crowdsourcing known as crowdfunding, popularised by Kickstarter. The internet-based platform allows money to be raised for innovative projects. In this case, an idea or invention that solves a specific problem has already been formulated; it simply requires the finances to enter into production. Rather than obtain a large sum of money from a single source, crowdfunding allows inventors to raise smaller amounts of money from multiple interested parties.
Another form of crowdsourcing inverts the process of ideation and funding. An individual or organisation faced with a problem advertises the said problem on the internet or social media. The crowd then functions as a pool of problem-solvers, devising and submitting their solutions to the advertiser. These solutions are subsequently compared, and the most ideal one is selected for implementation. Executed correctly, a win-win scenario can be achieved—the problem is solved, and the best inventor is rewarded for his or her efforts.
Cutting costs and contacting customers
Among the many advantages of crowdsourcing, the ability to save on cost is arguably the most tangible and significant. Traditionally, to create a new product or service, a company may have to generate its own ideas and hire talent to execute those ideas. Although building in-house capabilities may be desirable in the long run, it can be expensive at the outset.
With outsourcing, the right expertise can be acquired through a third party, thereby sidestepping the recruitment process and removing the need to provide staff benefits or severance packages. Nonetheless, a payment is usually made upfront to the third party, even before work is done. In both the traditional and outsourcing scenarios, the company bears the cost of labour with no assurance of a desirable outcome.
On the other hand, by crowdsourcing, the man-hours put into creating a prototype or minimal viable product are non-billable—inventors among the crowd work on the problem on their own time, with the understanding that remuneration is only awarded for solutions that are selected for further development or implementation. In effect, crowdsourcing grants a company access to a much larger labour force that is already equipped with the necessary knowledge and skill sets to solve a specific problem, also guaranteeing that a workable solution is delivered.
Another key benefit from crowdsourcing is that the crowd represents a potential pool of consumers. By consulting the crowd, businesses can design and develop their products or services according to the needs of the end-users, essentially combining the processes of market research and product development. Because the call for ideas can be broadcasted on the internet or social media, these channels double up as marketing tools. Hence, crowdsourcing is a way to raise brand awareness and secure consumer buy-in, ensuring that there is demand for the finished product or service when it hits the market.
Finding your ideal match
Despite the benefits of crowdsourcing, the process of crowdsourcing can be challenging to organise and manage. As the crowd consists of individuals from diverse backgrounds and different levels of competence, the quality of their innovations can vary widely.
Online platforms that curate idea submissions can therefore be extremely useful for companies keen on crowdsourcing. One such platform is IPI’s Online Marketplace, comprising three sections—TechOffers, TechNeeds and Tech Profiles from the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN).
The TechOffers section showcases an array of technologies developed for a wide range of industries—it is a repository of technology providers crowdsourcing demand for their solutions. Each innovation is categorised according to the sector it serves and is searchable based on relevant keywords relating to its function. Details such as unique features and specifications, as well as potential applications and customer benefits, are also documented. Importantly, the technology readiness level is indicated for each invention, verified by IPI’s team of experienced and industry-savvy technology managers.
Meanwhile, the TechNeeds section provides an avenue for businesses to advertise a technology gap that they want to address, essentially functioning as a call for solutions from the crowd. A background of the problem or pain points is provided, together with clear descriptions of objectives and desired outcomes so as to reduce ambiguity surrounding potential partnerships. Submission instructions and deadlines are also specified.
For business owners interested in crowdsourcing from overseas technology providers, the Tech Profiles from EEN page is an ideal gateway to global innovation. Conversely, inventors can also reach out to business owners internationally and gain access to new markets.
So let IPI be your trusted gateway to crowdsourcing, helping you broadcast your business needs and innovations to a wider audience.