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Tag: crowdfunding

Crowdfunding Efforts in the Wake of Harvey, Irma, Maria and the Earthquake

Crowdsourcing covers a number of activities. It could be used to engage people in action like in micro-tasking as you do on Amazon’s MechanicalTurk. It could be used to share knowledge as you do on Quora or Wikipedia. Obviously, you can collect ideas and collaborate on their development using a tool like IdeaScale, but crowdsourcing can also be used to gather funds from the public and when that happens, it’s called crowdfunding. Sort of like fundraising on a mass scale. And it’s become more and more common to see compassionate crowdfunding campaigns arise after a dramatic incident like some of the super storms that we’ve been seeing. Because after an event like this there are tons of problems to solve, here are just a few ways that crowdfunding has been used to help in disaster recovery.

After the 2011 Tsunami in Japan, some small business owners were able to start rebuilding their brands and businesses with the help of the crowd. They reached out to friends and family and that helped them recover their materials, open new stores, and get started again.

After Hurricane Sandy in 2012, lots of neighborhoods turned to crowdfunding to help them replace materials that they lost in the storm: clothes, household goods, and damaged streets and basements. Of course, many who donated were friends and relations, but some were total strangers.

After the 2014 mudslides in Washington, crowdfunding was even used to help individuals recover the things they had lost, with donations totaling more than $300,000 in just four weeks.

Luckily, IdeaScale also partners with the United Way and we’re proud to promote their efforts to contribute to the recovery following Harvey, Irma, Maria, and the earthquake. They have separate funds for each of the disasters, but IdeaScale decided to donate to each of them as we have clients in Florida, Texas, Puerto Rico, Mexico and we wanted to find a way to help all of them even from afar and now we want to take the opportunity to invite you to join us and do the same. The United Way is actively responding to each of the different incidents and is looking for both short and long-term assistance. Thanks for doing that work! And thanks for giving us the opportunity to support our customer family everywhere.

Top 5 Advantages of Crowdsourced Innovation Management

5 Advantages of Crowdsourced Innovation ManagementHundreds of years ago, only those who belonged at the top of the career ladder had access to information and research and development. There was little interaction with employees since management expected them to do their job based on practices established by the management themselves.

Fast forward to today: employees can share their opinions, come up with ideas, and help the company in the promotion of a product.

This is what crowdsourced innovation management is about and below are the 5 advantages of crowdsourced innovation management

1. Improved Employee Sentiment

You may have the capital to start your own business, but employees will always be the life-blood of every organization. This is why it is important to not only treat and pay employees well but also make them feel they are valued – and this crowdsourced innovation can offer that. Otherwise, their setbacks could impact their performance, which could be passed on to your customers.

It doesn’t matter where you work or what industry you belong to, keeping your employees engaged would lead to boost in employees’ morale, which could translate to improved services and better results. This keeps your customers happy and pleased too.

2. Enhanced Competitive Advantage

You know that crowdsourced innovation management boosts your employee’s morale and sense of worth in the company. This could show in their attitude and actions towards their work – but it doesn’t end there.

Engaging your employees in the development and decision-making of a product or service increases your competitive advantage, because their suggestions will likely result in new product offerings and service improvements that will help you stay ahead of the competition.

3. Decreased Turnover of Employees

When you are a business owner, one of the biggest challenges you will face is to retain employees. The good news is crowdsourced innovated management can help you minimize that and encourage employee retention.

How is that possible?

Through crowdsourcing, you are able to make employees feel that they are valued. Seeking  their opinion and valuing their importance especially during times of change in the organization makes them feel that they are valued in the company. As a result, they are less likely to leave since they are in an organization that knows their worth.

4. Develop Crowdfunding

Imagine this: you have a product in mind that you want to include in your line. After brainstorming, a team starts to develop a prototype and will be passed on to another department for testing. This team will make some comments and send the prototype back for revision and re-testing. This cycle goes on until you develop the perfect product for production – and all steps entail funds.

The good thing about crowdsourcing is you can minimize your costs. At the same time, other departments may set aside part of their budgets to give way to the product because they believe in it and they contributed to it.

5. Opportunity to Refine and Perfect Great Ideas

An idea, no matter how great it sounds, is not perfect in the beginning. Through crowdsourcing, you are able to take advantage of the experience, expertise, and ingenuity of other people in the industry. You are able to pool resources, find out what works and what doesn’t, and come up with a product that showcases the brilliance and excellence of your employees.

The best part is you can minimize trial and error efforts since you were able to combine efforts and the brilliance of the people around you. Remember that no matter how brilliant a person is, he can never know everything.

The bottom line is two heads are better than one and this crowdsourced innovation management is a perfect example of that. Listen to what other people have to say, keep an open mind, and who knows, that simple idea could lead to higher profits. Plus, your employees are happy too.

Paul GilbertThis post is a guest post by Paul Gilbert. Paul Gilbert is a professional blogger, an enthusiast who loves to write on several subjects including Insurance, personal injury, workers compensation & social security disability. He is also a part-time consultant at Zea Proukou, providing  solutions & support to injured workers for claiming workplace injury benefits under Workers’ Compensation.

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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Crowdsourcing vs. Crowdfunding and Everything in Between

Crowdsourcing has become a very common term online. Sometimes, however, the meaning gets blurred with other crowd-relatedCrowdsourcing vs. Crowdfunding and Everything in Between terms. It can be confusing to hear someone say crowdsourcing when they really mean crowdfunding. It can also mean that the purpose or focus of a project gets completely overlooked simply because a different word was used.

What is Crowdsourcing? 

Crowdsourcing is a business term coined in 2006. It is defined as “the process of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people, and especially from an online community, rather than from traditional employees or suppliers.”

Crowdsourcing takes on a variety of forms. It can be organized as a contest for the public, such as the challenges at Innocentive. Or, crowdsourcing can be organized as an internal way for organizations to gain feedback and innovative ideas from their employees or stakeholders. Regardless of how it’s used, crowdsourcing has proven itself to be incredibly helpful in a wide variety of organizations.

There are many benefits to crowdsourcing. The process allows organizations to solve problems more quickly. The collective insight of a group is generally superior to the ideas of a single expert or handful of executives because of the diversity and breadth of ideas the large group brings. As long as ideas are organized in an innovation platform, and carefully vetted before implementation, your organization stands to gain tremendously from crowdsourcing.

Crowdsourcing vs. Other Crowd-Based Terms 

There are other terms that are related to crowdsourcing, primarily based on their emphasis on using large groups of people to achieve a goal. Here are some common crowd-related terms that you will want to be familiar with:

  • Crowdfunding: A form of alternative finance that involves the funding of a project or business venture by raising monetary contributions from a large number of people.
  • Crowd Creation: A form of crowdsourcing where ideas for creating something are solicited from a group of people, often online. Examples include customers creating commercials and amateur hobbyists reporting their findings to help develop scientific databases.
  • Crowd Voting: A form of crowdsourcing that uses a community’s judgment to organize and filter content. Examples include readers rating articles online or viewers voting on who should continue on a reality television program.
  • Crowd Wisdom: A form of crowdsourcing that harnesses the knowledge and experience of a large group of people to solve problems or predict future outcomes. Examples include prediction markets such as the Iowa Elections Market or the Hollywood Stock Exchange.
  • Co-Creation: Co-creation allows employees, customers, or other stakeholders to become part of the product creation process. Examples include snack companies taking suggestions for a new flavor of potato chip, or shoe companies allowing customers to design their shoes online.
  • Collective Intelligence: A shared or group intelligence that emerges from collaboration and collective efforts to reach a group consensus. Examples include Wikipedia’s database of volunteer-written articles and Google’s indexing of millions of websites to find useful information through search.

When you fully understand crowdsourcing and its related terms, you’ll reduce the risk of miscommunication, projects will run smoother and you’ll see results faster. For more information, download our report Crowdsourcing: An Introduction today.

How Solving for Social Change is Different than Process Improvements

MAVCOne idea can change the world.

This concept is at once hard to wrap your head around and also patently obvious. While crowdsourcing and innovation challenges can be useful in a corporate or business setting, recently some of the biggest, most impactful innovation initiatives have been focused around social change. Even stepping beyond that, they have been focused on citizen engagement in enacting social change, hoping to find that one idea to change the world.

One example of this endeavor for social change is Making All Voices Count. Making All Voices Count was one of IdeaScale’s 2015 Innovation Management Award winners, working towards open government.

As may be evident by their name, Making All Voices Count is invested in ensuring that all citizens are heard when it comes to the changes and transparency that they want to see from their government. After all, our governments are meant to work for us, so we should have an opportunity to have an active role in the decisions.

The first step to accomplishing this goal was reaching out to all global citizens – with their Global Innovation Competition, anyone in the world was eligible to present an idea and apply to win the grand prize of £65,000. Unlike with process improvements where a small population is more likely to have opinions on what will work best, widespread participation is key in social change.

The moderation of ideas is the second step. For the Global Innovation Competition, Ideas are vetted by what are called Innovation Engagement Officers, who consider them for transparency and collaboration, as well as promoting inclusivity. One of the final stages before grand prize winner selection is an opportunity for finalists from all 12 Making All Voices Count countries to come together and receive mentorship and attend workshops in order to hone their ideas and to network.

Perhaps the biggest difference is that solving for social change makes lives better – even if it’s just one person, even if it’s just a small community, even if it’s just one city. Social change makes better the lives of the members of that community. While process improvements are also important, they are unlikely to have the same kind of emotional and psychological impact that social change can have.

In the first three years of the Global Innovation Competition, winning ideas have already had a humongous impact on the lives of ordinary citizens in Ghana, South Africa, Indonesia, and more, exacting changes on maternal mortality rates, delivery of government services, and government corruption.

To read more about Making All Voices Count and the Global Innovation Competition, click here to download the recent case study.

Top 5 Features in 2015

2015 top 5

And that’s a wrap on yet another year. They seem to go by so quickly, don’t they? The time moves even more swiftly when you have great tools that help to make things more efficient and accessible. With that in mind, we are wrapping up this year and ringing in 2016 by celebrating IdeaScale’s top five features of 2015.

  1. IdeaScale Stages
    IdeaScale Stages was introduced in order to help organize the innovation lifecycle into discrete phases with specific activities. By separating the cycle into phases—Ideate, Build Team, Refine, Estimate, Assess, Fund, Track Results—the whole process is much more efficient for those involved in producing ideas, and for those administrating the status of those ideas as they are evaluated and potentially implemented. Further, Stages are customizable, adding a whole other level of organization to the process.
  1. Workflow Automation
    Working in tandem with Stages, Workflow Automation allows Administrators to automatically move ideas to different Stages by setting thresholds. For example, in the Ideation phase, an Admin could set the automation to trigger any idea with five votes to move onto next stage. At the Build Team stage, the automation can be set to move on if all positions on team are filled. And so on.
  1. IdeaBuzz
    One of the most exciting new features of 2015, IdeaBuzz functions to crowdsource responses to specific challenges. Sounds pretty standard. But what isn’t standard is that participating in challenges allows you to earn money for a charity of your choice. To get started you build your profile, adding information about your individual knowledge and interests. Then you participate in challenges, bringing your particular expertise. As you participate, you earn money for a charity of your choice. There are currently 16 official charities running challenges on IdeaBuzz, and participants can even suggest charities. Studies have shown that people want to help, but aren’t always able to give money; IdeaBuzz provides a fantastic alternative to giving money out of your own pocket.
  1. Yammer Integration
    Another awesome feature this year was the Yammer integration. Yammer is a social networking site specifically for private communications in enterprise and within organizations. Now organizations can easily link IdeaScale communities to Yammer. Automatically feed recent activity back to Yammer. Yammer is already uniquely suited for crowdsourcing, with the ability to “like” ideas, and to comment and dialogue about them. Now, any activity that occurs on your IdeaScale community can automatically filter back to Yammer!
  1. Revised Admin Panel
    With the revised admin panel, things are infinitely more intuitive and efficient. Changes included a new top level section called Member Management, which combined all of the members, administrators, moderators, and groups under one heading. There is also a new page under customization for customizing site behavior. Everything is much easier to find and much more intuitively organized. Huzzah!

What were your favorite new features this year? What would you like to see new for next year?

3 Reasons to Submit to Innovation Management Awards by This Friday!

3 ReasonsThe deadline to submit your applications for the 2015 Innovation Management Awards is this Friday, November 20! In this third annual competition of accomplishments in innovation management, three categories are open for submissions: Best Engagement Strategy, Best Moderation Strategy, and Best Innovation.

But why might you want to submit to the Innovation Management Awards? Here are three reasons to consider:

  1. To recognize and celebrate all of the hard working members of your team who contributed to innovation management at your organization. It is always nice to give a nod to those who helped to make your organization more efficient, engaging, and innovative. Although nobody engages in innovation for the recognition, recognition definitely doesn’t hurt, and it’s still nice to do so when the opportunity arises. The Innovation Management Awards are just such an opportunity.
  2. It’s a great way to promote future innovation campaigns. If you’re planning on utilizing employee engagement and the crowdsourcing of ideas in the future—which you should be—being an Innovation Management Award winner would definitely be a feather in your bonnet. It shows that you value the input, that you’re committed to engaging in the process. It shows that contributions are appreciated and acknowledged, which will make your community more likely to want to be involved in later innovation campaigns.
  3. Perks for winning! By no means the most important incentive to submit an application, the rewards are also nothing to scoff at. In addition to a 5% discount on your 2016 IdeaScale community, winners also receive an Apple iPad Mini with Retina Display, a free pass to IdeaScale’s 2016 Open Nation Conference, a free IdeaBuzz challenge, and a promotional PR packet.

For more information about the Innovation Management Awards, and to submit your application, visit our Innovation Management Awards page.

Freedom to Fail

freedom to fail“I love it when I fail!” Have you ever heard anyone say those words? Not likely. However, recent studies and statistics have revealed that, rather than view our failures as shameful and worthless endeavors, we should work more on embracing failure as inherent and necessary on the road to innovation. That even when ideas do fail, this is an essential part of innovation. Thomas Edison, after hearing a colleague grumble about a failed experiment, remarked, “I cheerily assured him that we had learned something. For we had learned for a certainty that the thing couldn’t be done that way, and that we would have to try some other way.” While sometimes difficult to remember, our failures get us one step closer to having the right answer.

Further, working with a crowd softens the blow of this reality. The pure volume of ideas that are generated through crowdsourced innovation campaigns allow for the greater opportunity for success. When you get right down to it, it’s a matter of numbers and percentages—if you have more ideas to begin with, even with a high rate of failure, you will still have more successful ideas than otherwise.

For example, if you look at an organization that does not use the crowd to garner ideas, perhaps they come up with five ideas that they try to implement. Of those five ideas, only one of them is successful. Then look at an organization that decides to crowdsource ideas. As a result, they start out with 15 big ideas, of which eight are successful. There were still seven failed ideas there, but there were also some winners.

Crowdsourcing of ideas not only ensures a greater number of ideas to try out, but it also allows for a greater pool of resources in order to make ideas work, and more minds with different areas of knowledge. Additionally, more minds means that multiple directions can be explored at once.

What can you do to better celebrate and embrace failure on the path to innovation?

2015 Innovation Management Awards Are Open!

2015 awardsHave you fostered a high level of engagement in your community using new and innovative methods? Have you raised the bar for best practices in moderation of your community? Or perhaps you had an amazingly impactful new idea or product as a result of your community?

If this sounds like it jibes with your organization’s work this year, enter your submission for the 2015 Innovation Management Awards! Now open for submissions, the Awards cover three categories: Best Innovation (awarded for best new product, process, market shift); Best Moderation Strategy (awarded for most efficient and effective moderation standards); and Best Engagement Strategy (awarded for high level of engagement through unique methods).

The deadline for application is November 20, 2015. Other characteristics of winning campaigns might be quantifiable impacts, unique tactics and approaches to innovation, and creativity.

The 2015 Innovation Awards are the third annual. Previous winners have made strides in innovation and best practices in a multitude of fields, including public policy, government, environmental concerns, customer service, and technology, among others. Some awards winners have worked to change corporate culture and mindsets, while others have focused on efficiency and cost-cutting measures. Whatever you are doing within your community, if it is creative and exceptional, consider entering to win.

Winners will receive an iPad Mini with Retina Display, a discount on their IdeaScale subscription, a free pass to the IdeaScale’s 2016 Open Nation Conference, the opportunity to activate IdeaBuzz for free, and a promotional PR packet.

Take this opportunity to examine and celebrate what makes your community unique. Submit to the 2015 Innovation Management Awards! For specific rules and eligibility, and to apply, visit ideascale.com/2015-innovation-management-awards/.

Crowdfunding’s Greatest Successes

crowdfundingEvery day, crowdfunding sites are put to use for new and innovative purposes. Eminently recognizable sites like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo, and smaller, more specialized entities like GoFundMe and Patreon are utilized by artists, designers, filmmakers, authors, college students—anyone who has an idea and a plan and wants to put themselves out there.

But what are the most successful crowdfunding campaigns? Let’s take a look at the top placeholders in five different categories: filmmaking, electronic design, games, technology, and education.

Filmmaking: The Veronica Mars Movie – In March 2013, Rob Thomas, the creator of fan favorite television series Veronica Mars started a Kickstarter campaign to fund a feature film with the same beloved characters from the series. It was the first time that a crowdfunding site had been used to support a feature film, and funders reached the $2 million goal within 11 hours! By the end of the campaign, the amount had exceeded $5.7 million (the most money raised for a media-based product), and had reached the most backers ever to that point on Kickstarter, with over 90,000 backers. Seeing the success of this, other filmmakers with cult followings have followed Thomas’s lead, including Zach Braff for his Wish I Was Here and most recently, the gang of Super Troopers for a Super Troopers 2. You can read more about The Veronica Mars Movie campaign and its many record-breaking instances, in this blog post from March 2013, Crowdfunding by Numbers.

Electronic design: Pebble Time – In early 2015, Pebble Technology launched a new campaign to help fund development and production of a color, e-paper smartwatch. Having previously successfully funded a campaign of over $10 million for early development and initial design on the watch, this new and improved smartwatch raised over $20 million and is, as of now, the highest funded crowdfunding campaign ever. With up to seven days battery life, sleek design and operating system, and water resistant, some tech sites are saying the Pebble Watch is even better than the Apple Watch.

Games: Exploding Kittens – This card game, described on the Kickstarter page as a “highly strategic, kitty-powered version of Russian Roulette” for “people who are into kittens and explosions and laser beams and sometimes goats” raised over $8.7 million—the highest amount raised for any game on a crowdfunding site.

Education: An Hour of Code for Every Student – This education campaign raised over $5 million in an effort to reach 100 million students and provide them with an hour of computer science coding instruction. They saw this need after realizing that 90% of schools still don’t offer computer science education for students. Donations were matched dollar for dollar by several large organizations, including Microsoft, Bill Gates, and Google.

Technology: COOLEST COOLER – This 21st century cooler raised nearly $13.3 million. What makes it the coolest cooler? It has a built in ice crushing blender for easy drink making, waterproof Bluetooth speakers, a built in USB charger, a lid light, built in cooler divider which doubles as a cutting board, and a built in bottle opener.

What crowdfunded efforts have you contributed to? Which kinds of projects would you find most compelling?