Crowdsourcing was initially “the practice of engaging a crowd or group for a common goal – often innovation, problem solving, or efficiency”. Today, its definition is essentially the same. Its significance, however, is not. Over the last couple of years, distributed creativity and collective ideation has grown into a framework for a brighter and more inventive feature.
5 Trends and Changes for Crowdsourcing
This is where crowdsourcing is headed in 2017, and beyond.
1. A Momentum That Keeps Going
2016 marked the 10th anniversary of crowdsourcing. The ideas born in the world’s collective mind before then, and the projects launched from the same source since, undoubtedly showcase where crowdsourcing stands in the age of digitization and disruption. The new way of practicing collaborative innovation is still peaking, and we are excited to see for just how long this brilliant momentum will last.
In yesteryear’s world, less than 1 out of 1,000 people participated in the concept. Even so, the results for organizations of all shapes and sizes were nothing less than spectacular. Among the Best Global Brands, the usage of crowdsourcing increased by 30% (Eyeka “The state of crowdsourcing in 2016” report) with leading companies from the FMCG sector jumping on the bandwagon as well. The key milestone – Doritos’ Crash the Super Bowl video contest.
The ability to participate and influence was long due, after all, and the crowds embraced it with open hands, hearts, and minds. In turn, brand teams were allowed, as they still are, to tap into a far greater pool of relevant consumer ideas. Doritos’ contest eventually stemmed a permanent ideation platform called Legion of the Bold. As for now, we are waiting for participation and awareness to quadruple.
2. The Age of Ideation
What followed this long-awaited upheaval of 2016 was first the growth in number of participants and brands, and then the subsequent expansion of crowdsourcing applications. The concept has finally come of age, thus announcing the advent of the Age of ideation. If our predictions are correct, the future is human-centric, while crowdsourcing presents the most powerful catalyst for unified change.
2.1 What is Ideation, Exactly?
In 2017, we refer to ideation as “conceptualization of various elements of the marketing mix, be it product or service, communication messages, packaging solutions (be it graphical or structural), brand and product naming, consumer engagement initiatives (often referred to as marketing activation), point of sale materials, etc.”. It is a kind of formation of concepts and ideas that sparkles innovation.
Ever since crowdsourcing has started to make its contribution, content creation and ideas generation have been the main applications and the predominant activities. This year, ideation has grown to a whopping 68% (Eyeka “The state of crowdsourcing in 2017: The Age of Ideation” report), while content has decreased to 32%. The ideas are bigger and better, with collective intelligence fostering speed through parallel ideation processes with hundreds of participants.
3. Meta-Analysis and Big Knowledge
The power of crowds has always been the mightiest, and crowdsourcing platforms and intellectual curiosity have given us a lot to think about. Communities are solving problems as we speak, and at an impressive pace. They are already given both tools and information, and the results are truly striking. But, as collective ideation lacks control over participation, they are facing some challenges too.
Not so long ago, the force multiplier has come from analytical toolboxes and software systems that can be used by almost anyone with a slightest trace of curiosity. Knowledge is no longer exclusive either, with 3.9 billion of internet users now having access to life data and expert information. Harnessing wisdom is easier than ever, but the problem occurs when that wisdom is too subjective.
3.1 Analysing both the Analysis and the Analysts
One way to solve this is to subject crowdsourcing to discourse analysis, and thus introduce at least some control over participants and their collective ideation process. Community managers are currently working on this, and we’ll hopefully see them acquiring big knowledge in the year to follow. The analysis and analysts will both be analysed, and such insight will make solutions more precise.
4. In Search of Holistic Solutions
But, solutions will have to become more holistic, too. For the time being, the majority of crowdsourcing activities is pointed at strategic goals, acting as applications in which the crowd is not expected to provide finalized material, but only to generate ideas. Though this is completely in tune with the Age of Ideation, the innovation management teams are now in need of both tactical and executable solutions.
The result of a crowdsourcing exercise will thus be a fully developed app as opposed to the app roadmap. The crowds will keep working together to generate brandable ideas, but individuals will also compete in custom logo design contests, providing a finalized material for specific requirements of companies and individual clients. In 2018, crowdsourcing platforms will have to adopt this change.
Such demand – initiated by organizations in need of new and better concepts and products – will inevitably lead to a shift in the crowdsourcing industry itself. As predicted by Crowdsourcing Week, the platforms for collective brainstorming and funding will then start to cooperate themselves, and crowdsourcing enthusiasts will witness at least a handful of game-changing mergers and acquisitions
5. Cultivating Cultures of Innovation
As FMCG brands continue to be the most active users of collaborative ideation, the emerging trends now showcase new business applications, more diverse crowdsourcing formats and scopes, and more management options. To market researchers, industry analysts, agency directors, and brand marketers, this promises a better understating of how to leverage crowd brainpower and creativity.
5.1 Developing Innovative Solutions through Internal Crowdsourcing
Meanwhile, the crowdsourcing model becomes a great source of inspiration for organizations themselves. Companies big and small are starting to run their own innovation programs, in which employees are engaged in collaborative ideation and brainstorming. In order to produce creative and innovative products, Hong Kong based company Li &Fung already held a successful four week cycle of idea jams.
While companies are learning how to reap the benefits of ideation from both internal crowdsourcing and crowdsourcing at large, the industry steadily paves the path for a brighter tomorrow. The means to bridge the gap between platforms and clients are something that industry experts are currently working on, and we can expect that specific crowdsourcing departments will soon be put in place.
Maybe next year, maybe a year after that, crowdsourcing will help us all cultivate cultures of creativity and innovation. Until then, this phenomenon will remain an intriguing and hugely beneficial one, both in terms of business and technological advancement and the evolution of our species as a whole.
Trends and Changes for Crowdsourcing
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