Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Crowdsourcing for not only Technology Advancement, but also for Market Advancement

So you have spent a lot of time, effort and money to come up with that very niche and breakthrough product. Thankfully you have also achieved remarkable success with it and have found various applications for your product. But have you explored all avenues? Are you missing out on other opportunities of using your product in diverse areas? How can you be sure that you have explored enough if not all?

This problem is not new. Traditionally companies rely on hiring consultants who are experts in their field to give them suggestions or in some cases, actually leave it to their customers to further develop it. But now with the advancement of crowdsourcing, it is possible to use the crowd to further develop new application ideas. The advantage is the diversity of ideas. Also research has shown that experts and customers will only help in getting incremental innovations or application ideas, in related areas. For truly blue sky thinking and disruptive application ideas, we need to reach out to unrelated audience. Breakthrough and disruptive ideas are more likely to come from the freaks and geeks, more diverse the audience, the better the probability of finding something really out of the box.

So how do you go about it and what are some of the success factors when using crowd to get application ideas for your product?

1. First and foremost, ensure that all jargons and standard information are eliminated when describing your product. This is important to keep a sharp focus on the key aspects otherwise the reader might lose interest quickly or end up looking at what is not important for the purpose at hand (e.g. Avoid putting standard information about your company at the beginning)

2. Ensure that the key strengths and limitations of the product are highlighted. Don’t use your marketing material; instead use internal technical specifications to arrive at the product boundaries. Specifically – don’t try to steer the reader towards any specific area of applications.

3. Avoid temptation to go to people you know – take a chance with unknowns, especially across domains and expertise.

4. Beware of the fatigue which sets once you get the ideas. It is like, now you got the ideas, you can look at it anytime. Chances are you won’t, and even if you do, the rigour might give it a miss. Key is to finish the evaluation soon after the ideas are received.

5. Keep an eye out for the invisible potential in the ideas received. As a rule of thumb, spend at the least, as much as you spent on preparation, on executing the process of receiving ideas.
So is this applicable to any kind of product? While the concept is applicable to any kind of product, niche products, probably, are the best place to begin with.

ideaken helps organizations and SMEs to leverage crowdsourcing for product application ideas, identifying partners and market expansion.

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