Wisdom Of Crowds: More Corporations Turn to Crowdsourcing

Last September, I wrote about the fact that Netflix used crowdsourcing to solicit new ideas for its movie recommendation system, awarding $1 million for the winning entry. Well it turns out crowdsourcing is continuing to be used by major companies to generate new ideas and, in some cases, avoid high creative fees.

At the recent TechCrunch Disrupt conference, Judy Hu, Global Director of Advertising and Brand for GE, talked about the company’s use of crowdsourcing to generate 60 ideas in four days for everything from ad campaigns to product concepts.

But that’s small beans compared with Dell’s IdeaStorm. Launched in February 2007, IdeaStorm has generated over 10,000 ideas. Dell claims it has implemented nearly 400 of them. In late 2009, Dell added a feature to its IdeaStorm website, “Storm Sessions,” limited time discussions where Dell posts a specific topic and asks customers to submit ideas.

And speaking of beans, Starbucks has gotten in on the crowdsourcing act with “MyStarbucksIdea.com.” This active idea-generating community solicits and reviews ideas and reports on those implemented. The statistics are impressive. Starbucks says so far it has generated over 21,000 ideas for coffee and espresso drinks and almost 10,000 ideas for food, as well as some 22,000 ideas about the Starbucks experience (atmosphere, locations, ordering, etc.) and more than 13,000 “involvement” ideas (such as building community and social responsibility).

These are a few of the more formal programs – but there are scores of others that operate informally via Facebook, Twitter, and other social media. In fact, some companies solicit and use creative approaches generated via crowdsourcing – even video ads created by customers. For example, Pillsbury Crescent Rolls recently used the crowdsourcing service Zooppa to solicit 15-second videos, according to Adweek magazine. The winner was awarded $10,000.

Using crowdsourcing in such a way makes ad agencies and other creative types nervous, though. After all, if companies start asking consumers for ideas, they can call the shots when it comes to remuneration – and they may be able to get some pretty decent promotional ideas for far less than they’d pay a professional. But Ross Kimbarovsky, CEO of crowdsourcing site Crowdspring, tells Adweek that crowdsourcing helps graphic designers get repeat work, and it also helps small businesses get access to affordable creative services.

Crowdsourcing may have received an unanticipated boost because of the Gulf oil spill disaster. British Petroleum (BP) has received more than 20,000 ideas from the public submitted via the project’s website, as well as through Facebook, Twitter, email, and phone calls. According to the response team, to date, about 100 of the ideas are under further review.

Until recently, crowdsourcing has been a fringe activity, but with big companies making serious use of consumer input to drive all sorts of ideas, this method of doing business might become a standard practice in the near future.

About Barry Silverstein

Barry Silverstein is a freelance writer/marketing consultant. In addition to writing for ReveNews, he is a contributing writer to Brandchannel.com, the world’s leading online branding forum. He is the author of three marketing books, The Breakaway Brand (co-author, McGraw-Hill, 2005), Business-to-Business Internet Marketing (Maximum Press, 2003) and Internet Marketing for Technology Companies (Maximum Press, 2003). Barry ran his own Internet and direct marketing agency for twenty years. You can find Barry on Twitter @bdsilv.

3 Responses to Wisdom Of Crowds: More Corporations Turn to Crowdsourcing

  1. Some of the very BIG bands are using crowd source technique to generate new ideas for their rebranding old commodity or introcing a new one. Giant company like DELL is also benefiting from crowd source ideas.

  2. […] are some examples of these crowdsourcing approaches being adopted in the private sector, such as by NetFlix, GE, Dell and […]

  3. […] Dell: IdeaStormDell’s IdeaStorm is an initiative that allows consumers to voice out ideas that can contribute to the improvement and creation of new products and services for Dell; consumers are allowed to vote on new product ideas that are in the pipeline and the ideas that receive the most number of votes will be taken forward to production. Launched in 2007, IdeaStorm has generated over 10,000 ideas with Dell claiming that it has implemented nearly 400 of them.[3] […]