Crowdsourcing Offers a New and Wider Path to Innovation

GE, Allstate try crowdsourcing contests where external brainiacs compete to produce the best answers to big-data analytics questions.

If two heads are better than one, are 45,000 heads spectacular? That's the promise of crowdsourcing. Companies can find new ideas faster and sometimes at a lower cost than internal innovation.

[Related: Crowdsourcing Offers a Tightly Focused Alternative to Outsourcing]

But putting business problems out for public brainwork could expose sensitive information and strategic plans. And contest-winning ideas, developed in isolated laboratory conditions with squeaky-clean data, can't always be translated to the unpredictable real world, says Anand Rao, a principal at PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Still, some large companies see crowdsourcing as a valuable tool for finding answers to questions that involve analyzing lots of data.

The Crowd Takes Flight

General Electric recently worked with Kaggle, a vendor that manages crowdsourcing contests, to find ways to make flying more efficient. GE customer Alaska Airlines agreed to provide data, mixed with GE's own statistics, about planes, flights and other aspects of flying.

To continue reading this article register now

Discover what your peers are reading. Sign up for our FREE email newsletters today!