We looked at 10 applications of the crowdsourcing concept for business. They cover the broad disciplines of marketing, advertising, product development, customer service, public relations, human resources, outsourcing, project management, Web development, coding, social media, and quality assurance. In some cases, crowdsourcing is the business. Some companies, such as Netflix, have put a mighty fine price tag on their crowdsourced efforts. Others, like Dell and Starbucks, utilize the concept on
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The four-year-old IdeaStorm says the site "was created to give a direct voice to our customers and an avenue to have online 'brainstorm' sessions to allow you the customer to share ideas and collaborate with one another and Dell." Those brainstorms have generated more than 15,000 ideas since the site launched, with categories ranging from products to advertising to small business. Dell says it has implemented 432 ideas developed on the site. Among those it credits to the community: Offering Linux as an operating system on Dell hardware. IdeaStorm even solicits ideas on the ideas, holding a November "Storm Session" to solicit feedback on the site itself.
Crowdsourcing just sounds like a buzzword, doesn't it? It has the classic buzzword etymology: Two words smushed together to form a new one that can then be easily deployed in all manner of marketing, media, tech, and cocktail party contexts. But while the word might be hyped, the concept is quite real, and has spread rapidly through the business world. Widely credited to Wired writer Jeff Howe, the term -- like any buzzword worth its while -- might generate a dozen definitions from as many people. For businesses, it always involves some version of a single company reaching out to the vast masses to fulfill some need.
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