Posted by Barry Silverstein on June 14, 2010 11:30 AM
Audi is inviting the public to submit ideas for electric car designs through July 31, following Fiat's recent user-generated contest inviting consumers to participate in developing a new car. It's the latest high-profile crowdsourcing exercise, which used to be restricted to startups and smaller companies.
Now, it's much more common among bigger brands. Pepsi's doing it, while Starbucks has generated over 21,000 ideas from coffee-lovers for new drinks. Dell's three-year-old IdeaStorm has received over 10,000 suggestions from consumers, and claims to have implemented almost 400 of those ideas. Last year, Netflix paid $1 million for a new idea for a movie recommendation system.
Granted, they have to wade through a lot of junk to come up with a few pearls, but it also generates a lot of fresh ideas quickly from outside the organization, and at a cost that pales in comparison to the R&D dollars such companies typically invest. Witness the most high-profile crowdsourcing effort to date: BP.
So far, more than 80,000 ideas have been submitted to the beleaguered oil giant, which has been soliciting suggestions to plug the Gulf oil leak, although inventors fear it's a PR stunt. And of course, it's great fodder for comedians such as David Letterman, who spoofed the public outreach in a comedy bit above.
All joking aside, and driven by the social media revolution and brands' desire to engage and empower consumers and spark innovation, crowdsourcing is here to stay, and already becoming entrenched as a way of doing business that is fast becoming a standard practice.