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When it comes to innovation, two minds are better than one. So what about thousands of minds; what doors could they open?

Out-of-the-office thinking

Thanks to social media, businesses today can connect to millions of people worldwide. They can crowdsource ideas, opinions and perspectives from anyone, anywhere. This can help drive faster, cheaper product development; reduce research and personnel costs; and solve problems that may be hard to crack internally. And as many businesses are proving, that can generate some great results.

Give consumers a voice

Tesco, one of the world’s largest retailers, has been championing crowdsourcing for some time and earlier this year, its online community helped invent the world’s first socially-created wine. They shortlisted the product and even proposed its branding. Deola Laniyan, account director at Tesco’s social and PR agency, said: “Consumers now have an expectation that their voices will be heard, they want to be more involved in the process and this campaign answers that beautifully.”

Tesco isn't the only consumer brand surfing the crowdsourcing wave. Vitamin Water gave its consumers the chance to pick its next flavor and Doritos asked its community to invent a new variety. Netflix offered $1 million to developers to improve its recommendation engine. And so the list continues.

More than a bit of fun?

It’s easy to see how these projects can grab attention and get people on board, but does successful crowdsourcing always have to rely on exciting incentives? Or are people as willing to part with their intellectual property just for the sake of “the greater good”?

Increasingly, people are coming together to solve problems for purely altruistic motives.  One example is Peer to Patent; a joint project between the New York Law School and the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).  It uses crowdsourcing to help the USPTO find information relevant to assessing the claims of pending patent applications.  There are no cash prizes, no creative ideas and no fun videos to submit.  Yet still, people care enough to supply information and research based on their expertise.

The seeds of innovation

No matter what the task in hand contributing to product development or sharing technical expertise – crowdsourcing demonstrates the huge potential of harnessing collective brainpower.  And when it comes to innovation, it shows that several great minds are definitely better than one.

To find out more about the role of social media in innovation, head over to the World of Innovation website – it's our hot topic of the week.

Visit World of Innovation >>


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