Many companies are using crowdsourcing to garner ideas and to engage with customers. Two of the early leaders in a B to C (Business to Consumer) environment are Dell and Starbucks. They both encourage customers to submit ideas on almost any topic they want whereas companies like P&G, Reckitt Benckiser and others are much more focused and directive in what they ask for.
Take a look at Dell’s Ideastorm Site where you can submit your idea and vote or comment on the ideas of others. The counts they give are interesting:
23,300 ideas submitted
549 ideas implemented
So after a lot of activity 2.4% of the ideas submitted have been implemented.
The Starbucks site is called My Starbucks Idea. Their statistics for ideas submitted are:
277 ideas implemented
They list just 277 ideas as implemented which is a tiny percentage.
If you scroll around the sites you will see that the level of customer interaction is high. Most of the ideas seem to be minor incremental or environmental suggestions. Maybe some will turn into big innovations.
The resources to manage these sites and to assess and respond to ideas must be significant – even allowing for the fact that the users vote and comment. The value of the resulting ideas is hard to judge but only a small percentage are implemented. However, Dell and Starbucks have been doing this for some time so they must think it is worthwhile. As a piece of customer engagement and publicity it seems very successful. The users must know that the chances of their idea being implemented are low but they love to comment and contribute. Crowdsourcing can energise your loyal fans as well as generate some good innovations but if you adopt this approach you should anticipate and resource a high volume of ideas.