For the past weeks we’ve talked about crowdsourcing and crowdfunding, two major parts of Open Innovation. Before discussing this in class and doing some research, I knew nothing about these two terms. However, I found out that I’ve seen and taken part in these activities.
For instance, I’ve used Beta versions of some programs and computer games. This, as it turns out, is an example of crowdsourcing, as the programmers test their product on a (sometimes limited) number of people to see possible problems or malfunctions in their work. Despite from this, I also made my input into Wikipedia, due to the fact that this website enables any person to apply changes or write articles of their own for other people to see.
I, myself, believe in crowd knowledge, but I’ve also seen a lot of rather
DUMB, let’s say, unwise people. This brings up the first and most obvious drawback in using the crowd for coming up with ideas/solutions. Usually, companies pay experts money for completing a task, because the experts are experts and they know what they’re doing. The crowd, on the other hand, is not as competent as actual professionals, so I figured that when it comes to crowdsourcing solutions, the tasks should not be too complicated.
However, addressing the crowd with your problems has it’s major advantages. For instance, professionals usually charge big sums of money for their work, because they are experienced and clearly have a lot of knowledge in their area of expertise. Using the crowd definitely costs less.
In addition to financial benefits, crowdsourcing also enables to generate diverse ideas due to the number of angles from which the problems are addressed, which may be a significant factor if, for instance, a company/designer has been trying to deal with a problem for ages, maybe even hired some people find a solution (outsourcing), but these people (might even be professionals) cannot provide a viable solution. In this case, crowdsourcing may become the only way to address the problem.
However, since the number of “employees” when using crowdsourcing can go up to billions, these people and all their ideas can get out of hand. In some cases, the management process can take too much effort and time and it is simply not worth the struggle.
Crowdfunding is definitely a good idea for design because, for example, typical funding (as in investments or bank loans) is not always applicable to some kinds of design works, whereas addressing the crowd enables the company to find those who might get interested in their projects - from all around the world (usual funding limits the opportunities to get money at least geographically).