Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Crowd sourcing, open innovation and open organization – 1

Posted in business and convergent technologies, social networking and business by Timothy Platt on March 7, 2010

Crowd sourcing is a very popular buzz word these days, and like any newly emerging or newly re-envisioned idea there is a lot of justification in that. After all, the antithesis of organized, regimented and centralized can be a simple lack of structure, organization and focus as easily as it can be a positive and a source of new opportunity and of expanded resources and value. Crowd sourcing is also one of those terms that we can expect to see mainstreamed as there is a lot of positive meaning and value that fits within it and that will outlast and outweigh the fluff and hype.

This term and the meaning and value I see in it sit at the shared boundaries that would demarcate two of the posting series I have been developing here in this blog:

Social Networking and Business
Ubiquitous computing and communications – everywhere all the time

If online social networking and business social networking are about sharing and collectively creating value as information, crowd sourcing is where that information takes the next step into collectively developed and vetted design and even in some cases production as well. In that, and as an extreme, crowd sourcing can be viewed as a mechanism of outsourcing that forces a redefinition, or at least a very significant reconsideration of what outside and inside are for an organization – where business intelligence and business intelligence sourcing reside in at least critical ways entirely outside of the organization. I am going to take this out of the abstract by looking at least briefly at a set of specific crowd sourcing oriented web sites that I see as highlighting the early stages of this still developing capability.

http://www.threadless.com with its motto “nude no more” is a business that is built entirely upon crowd sourcing designs for tee shirts. People from outside the company submit tee shirt designs and if they are picked up on and turned into shirts, the designers share in part of the revenue. If their design is selected for production they receive at least $2500 and if their design goes into reprint they earn an additional $500.

Site visitors – people from the crowd can submit designs, vote on those they like and do not like, buy shirts printed with the designs they like and collectively this has built a thriving business – a business that is so open as far as design and marketing research are concerned that it is virtually turned inside out with the crowd outside serving as a crucial part of the business per se and providing a lot of its information infrastructure in the process.

http://www.quirky.com offers the crowd opportunity to collectively and individually share design ideas of all sorts, from next generation snow sleds to new design coffee cup holders, office efficiency tools – most anything that a member of the crowd might come up with as a specific design for how to do something more effectively, or at least with greater entertainment value. Once again, the ideas that float to the top from crowd response and as such, potential marketplace response go into production and production translates into compensation.

http://www.crowdspring.com – graphic design and writing projects fulfilled here with 53,000+ designers and writers signed up and accessible through the site to work for you. You post your project and set your price and deadline parameters and the crowdspring.com community of developers and writers bid for the assignment.

http://www.geniusrocket.com – follows a somewhat similar crowd sourcing approach for creative marketing where you as a client to be submits project proposals, review submissions coming in from the crowd in response, and select your favorites to carry out the assignments.

http://99designs.com also crowd sources creative design, and yes that includes tee shirts as well as brand logos, web design and other print and online project work. This is becoming a very competitive arena and crowd sourcing markets that work are developing competitively as new players move in and try to capture market share.

http://victorsandspoils.com markets itself as “the first creative (ad) agency built on outsourcing principles.” This is still a newly emerging arena but they already have real competition, and both from other startups and from more established and mainstream agencies that are exploring the potential of crowd sourcing now too.

There are a great many web sites and organizations I could cite in this posting but to keep it within bounds for acceptable length I will just mention two more, and for their diversity as well as for their specific, individual significance.

http://www.innocentive.com “harnesses collective brainpower around the world to solve problems that really matter.” People from the crowd post challenges. People from that same global crowd respond to them with their individual and their collective, collaborative insight, knowledge and problem solving skills. Think of this as a globally crowd sourced think tank with a focus on identifying societal problems and challenges from the bottom up (as opposed to the more conventional top down with pre-selected experts), and that seeks to find solutions to these problems from that same diverse community-centered source.

http://www.ireport.com is the crowd sourced reporting capability that CNN has developed and offered to the global community. When Port au Prince was devastated by an earthquake much of the initial on the scene reporting came out of the area of greatest damage via handhelds and their video feeds and from ordinary people on the scene. Crowd sourced news may not always be completely correct on all details and it can be biased and even fabricated, but the diversity of voices and perspectives coming from the crowd, coupled with our ongoing news outlets can and does correct for that. Crowd sourced reporting is already changing the face of the news and reshaping its focus and immediacy, and it is opening up worlds of new opportunity for sharing alternative views and perspectives and for sharing otherwise unheard stories.

http://www.youtube.com and a host of other crowd sourced news and entertainment resources are out there creating pressure on the more traditionally centralized news and entertainment sources to diversify in this direction too. This is, after all, where their audience is turning so they have to be there too, to stay relevant to an increasing share of their chosen marketplace.

This is the first of at least two postings on crowd sourcing that I will be adding to this blog, outlining something of what it is by way of example. I am going to continue on this topic delving into the implications of this and on how crowd sourcing fits into our emerging social networking and ubiquitous computing environment.

15 Responses

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  1. […] Crowd sourcing, open innovation and open organization – 1 « Platt Perspective on Business an… […]

  2. Munish K Gupta said, on March 8, 2010 at 6:03 am

    http://www.ideaken.com is SaaS enabled collaborative innovation platform. ideaken makes use of the crowdsourcing model to help solve the problems or challenges put in by individual or enterprises.

    • Timothy Platt said, on March 8, 2010 at 11:35 am

      Hi Munish and thank you for sharing this link.

      I have just been looking through http://www.ideaken.com and this looks like a really good example of what crowd sourcing can do. There are a lot of really great resources out there that are developing out of this model and I really appreciate when a colleague shares information with me on best of breed examples and solutions.

      Thanks again,

      Tim Platt

  3. […] Crowd sourcing, open innovation and open organization – 1 « Platt … […]

  4. The Zooppa crowdsourcing platform said, on March 8, 2010 at 2:11 pm

    Hi Timothy – Thought you might like to know about Zooppa for future research and articles on crowdsourcing. We’ve built a community and platform for user-generated advertising used by clients like Google, Nike, Microsoft, Mini Cooper, General Mills…

    Members submit video, print, banner, concepts etc in response to creative briefs. Here’s a direct link to our current campaigns: http://zooppa.com/contests

    • Timothy Platt said, on March 8, 2010 at 6:58 pm

      Thanks for sharing information on your crowd sourcing ad agency. I have been looking through your web site and note here that one of the hallmarks of crowd sourcing is the way creative new ideas can more easily enter public awareness, and from that same public increasing its relevancy and appeal.

      Tim Platt

  5. […] Timothy Platt on March 10, 2010 This posting is the promised continuation and follow through on a first crowd sourcing posting I added on March 7, 2010. I started there by listing and at least briefly discussing nine organizations and their web sites […]

  6. Raj Pillai said, on March 11, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    Hi Timothy,
    Just wanted you to be aware of another software platform and not a service/transaction oriented application called inno360…www.inno-360.com

    What makes inno360 different is our focus on building our clients’ own proprietary inno vation ecosystems. We provide the tools and an “infostructure” that allows them to connect to the best talent in the world, including their entire innovation ecosystem, with high quality innovation campaigns, and delivering a high deal success rate.

    • Timothy Platt said, on March 11, 2010 at 2:35 pm

      Hi Raj and thanks for your comment about inno-360 (www.inno-360.com).

      I have been looking over your web site and you are developing what looks to be a very interesting organization. I am going to email you to find out more about inno-360 and your network, and your plans for moving forward with this. When I started writing about crowd sourcing in my blog I had organizations like yours in mind. I will add that I have a third posting on crowd sourcing in progress as I write this, and I will be posting it in a few days. That one will be on the synergies of crowd sourcing and viral marketing. I will be adding more to follow.

      Thanks again, Tim Platt

  7. Jerry Ashton said, on March 14, 2010 at 8:29 am

    Out of curiosity I followed you over here from LinkedIn.

    Glad I did.

    Several months ago, I embarked on an ambitious (ahh, the innocent) 12-chapters-in-12-weeks project to compile material via crowd-sourcing on the Great Recession. It is an eye-opener.

    I invite you to stay tuned. http://www.WrittenOffAmerica.com. J

    • Timothy Platt said, on March 14, 2010 at 11:34 am

      Hi Jerry and thank you for your comment.

      And I should have started my reply to you by offering congratulations for your ongoing endeavor and good fortune in your follow through. I post what amounts to a short essay every day, plus comment replies like this so I know that any such commitment can be both significant and rewarding.

      Thanks, by the way for mentioning that you came to the blog from LinkedIn. I pick up on that to point out the value of web apps like the one I have on my LinkedIn profile that highlights my more recent blog postings, with posting titles as links to the blog, and with my posting “excerpt text” showing. (I put that in quotes as you should always separately draft your excerpt text content yourself, instead of hoping a text fragment scraped automatically from a posting will work best for you.) So keep an eye out for the web apps that will really help you reach your goals.

      Good fortune, as I said above, with all of your writing. I am just about to post my next piece, a number three in a sub-series on crowd sourcing, this one with a focus on viral marketing.

      Tim Platt

  8. […] Crowd Sourcing, Open Innovation and Open Organization – 1 on what it is with examples of organizations that follow a crowd sourcing business model and • […]

  9. […] I posted my first note on crowd sourcing in this blog with Crowd Sourcing, Open Innovation and Open Organization – 1 I cited nine specific businesses that are following a crowd sourcing model and others have been […]

  10. Tatiana Andrushko said, on March 31, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    Hi Timothy,

    Thank you for this list.

    I would like to suggest you to take a look at http://world4brains.com , an automated Global Consulting and Innovation Think Tank.

    Hundreds of well-credentialed consultants and accomplished innovators from around the world and across all required expertise categories simultaneously collaborate with each other and contribute their best ideas, advice and solutions to your problems. Or give you constructive and honest feedback plus access to the sharpest brainstorming partners. And if need be we’ll find you solutions for fair conflict resolution.

    with kind regards,
    Tatiana

    • Timothy Platt said, on March 31, 2010 at 5:10 pm

      Thank you Tatiana, for sharing a link to your business and some information on what you do in the crowd sourcing market place. There are a lot of good businesses currently working to develop effective business models centered on crowd sourcing and more are coming online all the time. I am always happy to learn of new entries in this growing, active field.

      Tim Platt


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