The Most Innovative Budgets Will Prevail

If any of you are sizing up your 2012 budget and finding it lacking, you’re not alone. It’s no surprise that businesses everywhere are continuing to tighten their belts and save where they can in the coming new year (that’s just around the corner, by the way – yikes!). And one way that businesses are innovating in the face of their budget cuts is by integrating crowdsourcing into their strategy.

The Air Force, like most of the military is facing budget cuts in the near future. And, as a result, they have started launching numerous contests to continue to develop new, innovative technologies by offering reasonable prizes for crowdsourced suggestions that will still help maintain a strong military defense. The Air Force Research Lab teamed up with Innocentive and has already finished the Humanitarian Air Drop project and the Vehicle Stopper challenge with suggestions coming in from as far away as Lima, Peru.

This tactic, of course, is not limited to the military and has been around for awhile now. In 2009, when Unilever launched a crowdsourcing competition that invited fans to suggest creative marketing campaigns for the new product Peperami, not only did they get a brand new and strikingly offbeat campaign, they also reportedly saved 60% of their typical marketing costs.

In a recent Smart Company article, Ross Dawson (crowdsourcing guru), says that in fact, crowdsourcing is not only the temporary answer to budget setbacks, but certainly the emerging model for doing business in the future.

But naturally there are concerns about the extent of crowdsourcing’s ability to deliver: quality of work, knowledge transfers, privacy, but when the fat is already as trimmed as it can be and saving as much as 60% on costs is a possible outcome, we will undoubtedly continue to encounter more crowdsourcing in the coming year.

How do you think we can expect to see this growth manifest in 2012? Where do you think the opportunity is for the most savings when it comes to crowdsourced solutions?

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