Driving Technology Innovation Using Crowdsourcing

Driving Technology Innovation Using CrowdsourcingStudies show that speed-to-market is positively correlated with new product success. It’s important to execute a time-based technology innovation strategy in an unfamiliar, emerging, or rapidly-evolving market.  Today’s technology market is nothing but uncertain, with quick changes happening every day. As a result, speed-to-market with your technology innovation could mean the difference between stellar results or lackluster product launches.

Technology Innovation Challenges 

Like many organizations, you likely face a variety of challenges with tehcnology innovation. Internally, you may face resistance to running your projects or teams in new ways. You may have people who are used to the “way it’s always been done,” or who want to choose teams and projects based on internal politics instead of merit. You may also face resistance to new technologies, or have leaders who don’t want to invest in additional upgrades and training.

Other challenges that you face include limitations due to staff size, budget, culture, uncertainty and skepticism. When it comes to developing new ideas, it’s difficult to know which ideas will have a large enough demand to be profitable until you’ve invested a significant amount of money on research and development.

Overcoming these challenges is the key to rapid technology innovation. By incorporating crowdsourcing into your innovation efforts, you can reduce common roadblocks,  iterate quickly, and perhaps be first-to-market.

Driving Technology Innovation Using Crowdsourcing 

The most common complaint amongst technology innovation project managers is the lack of resources.

Many organizations don’t have the staff available to substantially increase speed-to-market and don’t have the budget to hire more. Even if staffing isn’t a concern, there’s still the constant budget constraints that make the development of new ideas difficult for most organizations.

Beyond resources, organizations often face the challenge of predicting demand. There’s nothing more frustrating for a project team than spending time and money developing a new technology innovation, only to discover that no one is buying. Unfortunately, most organizations don’t find out that they’re headed down the wrong path until the R&D is already invested, the product has already hit the market, and it’s losing money.

Crowdsourcing changes the entire story for technology companies. With crowdsourcing, your organization can gain significant hours without hiring new employees. You can spread out the time required for testing and development over a much larger group of people, many of whom are volunteers. You can also test consumer demand for an innovation before you invest a large amount of money developing it.

From new product development to marketing ideas, you can also use crowdsourcing to solve specific technical problems like Citrix did with their innovation program. Citrix was able to move from managing new ideas via email to using crowdsourcing to gather ideas from thousands of employees.

How to Get Started

Using crowdsourcing in a technology organization requires a shift in thinking from traditional attitudes that generally exists in companies that have been around for years. If you can work on encouraging your staff, team, and leadership to change their mindset, you’ll be well on your way to helping your organization take advantage of the many benefits of crowdsourcing. Here are some of the best practices for technology crowdsourcing:

  1. Shift the Paradigm of “Must Be Invented Here.” Being the best isn’t just about who you have inside your organization, it’s about what you can access outside it as well.
  1. Remove Geographical Bias. Are you resistant to accepting ideas from other cultures? Having an open mindset will promote respect and admiration for other cultures and perspectives. This could be the breakthrough that you’ve been waiting for.
  1. Be Open to Revising Your Problem Statement. As your true needs become known, your problem statement may need to grow and adapt. Declutter your requirements and criteria to make sure that participants understand what you’re looking for.
  1. Involve the Marketing Department from the Start. Make sure your marketing department participates in the project from the very beginning. If there isn’t enough interest in your new offer, don’t be afraid to pull the plug and move on to a new idea.
  1. Use Competitions to Spark Interest and Creativity. People love to compete, they love to vote on others’ ideas, and they especially love to win. By using competitions, you can draw more participants than you would with a simple survey or focus group.
  1. Pick the Right Rewards. Be sure that the rewards for your contest or competition match what the crowd is interested in. Many crowd workers are looking for a financial reward, but they are also very interested in making a difference.  You can maximize participation by making it clear what the rewards are and matching them to the desires of the crowd.
  1. Follow Up After the Winner is Chosen. When you choose a winning idea and move into implementation, keep your fans and participants updated as the product goes into production. This will spur demand and help participants feel like their work made a difference.

When you follow these best practices, you’ll be setting your organization up for success with your crowdfunding innovation projects.  For a deeper dive into technology innovations using crowdsourcing, download our latest whitepaper.

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