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Manufacturing success: how to use crowdsourcing to enhance innovation and product development

Manufacturing success: how to use crowdsourcing to enhance innovation and product development

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Published by: Crowdsourcing.org on Mar 08, 2012
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Manufacturing success: how to use crowdsourcing toenhance innovation and product development
March 7th, 2012 by Derek Singleton 
Since the global financial crisis,rich countries have increasinglycome to see manufacturing as areliable driver of growth.Globalization, of course, meansthat it is more difficult than everfor rich countries to compete withdeveloping countries in this sectorof the economy.In this environment, crowdsourcing is increasingly recognized as a goodway to enhance innovation and develop better products more efficiently.For a variety of reasons, however, many companies are hesitant aboutimporting it into their development processes. Below I set out concreteways that companies can overcome some of these issues.
Reflections of a software analyst
For the last year and a half I’ve been covering the manufacturing
industry as a software analyst for Software Advice, a site thatreviews 
manufacturing software. Lately, I’ve spent a lot of time analyzing how
tools such as 
 are making their way into the industryand how they can improve supply chain and shop floor collaboration.All of this got me thinking: why should collaboration be limited to in-house experts? How can companies alter their processes so that outsiderscan help?
Crowdsourcing speeds up innovation
By now it’s pretty well documented that if run properly, crowdsourcing
can bring products to market faster and at a lower cost. Proctor &Gamble experimented with crowdsourcing a while back to find a way toprint images onto its Pringles cans. Its search led it to a small Italianbakery that had figured out how to print images onto pastries. P&Glicensed the technology and was able to bring its idea to market in a littleunder a year.Because crowdsourcing proved successful in this instance, it decided toexpand its crowdsourcing efforts. P&G currently relies on outside
collaboration for a full 50 percent of its innovations. But it’s not alone:
several large companies have started to lean on the wisdom of crowdsfor production innovation. Among them are companies like Chlorox,3M, Johnson & Johnson and many others. 
How to bring crowdsourcing into the mainstream
These companies are the exception rather than the rule for a variety of reasons. Most important amongst these seem to be a fear of change,uncertainty about intellectual property rights, and a lack of designsharing technologies. Luckily, each of these obstacles can be overcome.Here are three ways to bring crowdsourcing into mainstreammanufacturing.
Start small and work your way up. A lot of manufacturing companiesare uneasy about opening up their development processes to outsideinfluences. To work around this mentality companies should start off using crowdsourcing for a small project to get management used to thismethod of innovation. After a few successes, they can work their way upto bigger projects.

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