Crowdsourcing. It’s a hot topic right now thanks to developments in technology. Before, there were barriers to asking a large group for input and ideas. Now, these barriers are quickly falling away. The Internet is always on, which makes it faster and easier to connect the world’s talent. Books like Makers and Decisive are bringing the practice of open and cooperative design and decision processes to the mainstream. Below are some different examples of companies using crowdsourcing in new and interesting ways.
Search and mentions of “crowdsource” have sky rocketed as interest grows.
Crowds can create physical products, too! But be aware of the challenges and have a plan to overcome them. Quirky is getting a lot of attention for their product development tools. Anyone can submit an idea and then the Quirky community works to evaluate, refine, manufacture and market the product. For mass produced items, who better to weigh in on the design criterion than the people who will eventually buy the product? A royalty structure makes intellectual property clear and gives the original idea creator rewards for their idea.
Tongal is an interesting startup that allows crowds to get creative. Brands publish a challenge and writers, animators, actors, and creators can post their inventive advertising ideas. There are various rounds of approval, just as there would be in an organization, and winners of each stage are rewarded appropriately and then moved to the next round. Lego, a huge brand who is loved by engineers with over 400 models in the GrabCAD Library, uses this service.
Questions and Tasks
If a company has a quick problem to solve, like a small task or question, then they should consider tools like Amazon’s Mechanical Turk or Quora. Mechanical Turk breaks down larger issues into manageable bits that can be handled by a crowd of individual users in seconds. Quora is a simple question and answer platform that will get you better results than just submitting a Google search. Industries with big data problems are getting results, too. Another interesting new startup is FoldIt, which is using gamification to get the public to fold proteins!
Independent programmers are working tirelessly to come up with accurate computer-aided translations, while Facebook is famous for using crowdsourced translations and claims it generates a much better result. Kahn Academy, an open source learning resource, also uses crowdsourcing to create subtitles and translations for its thousands of videos.
This is one of the more obvious and popular options for companies to crowdsource. Platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo directly connect creators to consumers. Startups and companies can turn concepts into viable and marketable products, like this project that went from napkin sketch to outer space. Hardcore product designers and engineers run campaigns when they want to skip the tedious process of gathering venture capital, pitching, and developing detailed market research.
Obviously no list of crowdsourcing companies would be complete without mentioning GrabCAD Challenges. Generate ideas or concepts through crowdsourced Challenges, save time by reusing parts from the Library, work in parallel and connected to your content with Workbench. Companies can reduce costs and time to market while increase design productivity.
Crowdsourcing can help reduce the pain companies feel when they have limited talent options or experience. Companies can now receive help in any area they need. Find the tool that works for you to create a more open and efficient product design and engineering process!
Chris McAndrew is a toy engineer turned marketer and contributing author to the GrabCAD Blog. He has helped to develop and bring to market a variety of products in various industries including children’s toys, medical devices, consumer electronics and industrial machinery. More articles can be found on his website www.3DEngr.com where he writes about product development, CAD design, and 3D printing.
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