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How crowdsourcing could boost your business

Last Updated 2022/04/12

Crowdsourcing is an organisational model in which a single person or business obtains access to goods and services, including ideas and money, from a large, open and often rapidly-changing group of people, usually via the internet. By dividing work between disparate participants, significant results can be achieved.

Many businesses would probably not consider crowdsourcing a viable option, yet if implemented correctly, it can be beneficial for a number of reasons.

Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is probably the most known form of crowdsourcing, which involves raising funds through the public via websites such as, Kickstarter or Indiegogo, instead of investors. The business receives funds and backers of the project receive specific rewards depending on how much they invested.

Competitions

Crowd contests get the public involved by challenging them to complete a particular task, such as designing a logo, writing a blog or coming up with a company name, users typically are then rewarded in return.

In recent years, there have been many successful crowdsourcing campaigns, one of them being Lego. Lego allows users to submit their product designs through their website, which are then voted for by other users. The idea with the most votes gets created, and the creator receives 1% royalty of the revenue. This way of crowdsourcing is beneficial to both users and Lego themselves. Users are rewarded for their ideas, while at the same time excitement is generated within the fanbase and Lego receive a product idea that they know already has demand within the community.

Sole support

Some businesses have taken this a step further by using crowdsourcing as their primary business feature. An example of this is the mobile application Waze. Waze is a GPS, maps, and traffic navigation mobile application that relies on the community to provide real-time data, such as accidents, road hazards, traffic jams, etc. This data then gets relayed to all users in the vicinity. This technology allows Waze to provide their users with genuinely useful information and distinguishes themselves as a maps application from their competitors.

Downsides

That said, with anything, if the necessary steps are not planned out, then it could backfire and negatively impact the business. One of the most famous crowdsourcing mishaps in recent years was by the National Environmental Research Council (NERC). In 2016, NERC conducted an internet poll to decide the name of their new £200 million polar research vessel. The name that received the most votes was "RRS Boaty McBoatface." Unfortunately, NERC was not impressed by the results and decided to choose the fifth place "RRS Sir David Attenborough" as the winner, while the name Boaty McBoatface was given to the ship's high tech remotely operated sub-sea vehicle instead.

Whether crowdfunding is a viable organisational method for your business is down to the goals you are looking to achieve, and what resources are currently at hand. It's certainly something worth considering if the circumstances are right.

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Adam Sykes