Eyes On The Prize.

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Using the collective wisdom of the masses has been around for centuries but technology is speeding up access to the extent that if you’re not crowdsourcing for innovative solutions and ideas, you’re missing out on what can now be quantified as billions of dollars worth of assets. So how can you tap into the giant brainpower of the many? And does it really work? We can point to many examples of huge success stories from incentivizing the crowd with the promise of rewards or prizes. This excerpt from an HBR article highlights a few worth noting:

“Tongal, a crowd-powered advertising agency, routinely solicits submissions for campaigns for consumer products firms. In the summer of 2012 Colgate-Palmolive worked with the Tongal community on a two-month, $17,000 challenge to develop ads for Speed Stick’s “Handle It” campaign, and selected one of the resulting submissions for its $4 million Super Bowl buy. In the Kellogg School of Management’s ninth annual Super Bowl advertising review, the Tongal ad ranked 12 out of 36—outperforming ads by Calvin Klein, Volkswagen, Coke, Toyota, and Pepsi. Other companies in this space include Quirky (new product and service concepts) and crowdSPRING, DesignCrowd, and 99designs (logos and graphic design).”

Merck set up an eight-week, $40,000 contest in which it released data on chemical compounds it had previously tested and challenged participants to identify which held the most promise for future testing. The contest attracted 238 teams that submitted well over 2,500 proposals. The winning solution came from computer scientists (not professionals in the life sciences) employing machine-learning approaches previously unknown to Merck. The results were spectacular enough to merit a front-page story in the New York Times, and the company is now implementing the solutions.

Firms as diverse as Intel, Google, Apple, Ford, Procter & Gamble and many many more, now deploy crowds in the thousands to invent uses for both new and existing products and technologies. Perhaps it’s time for yours to get its eyes on the prize?


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