Crowdsourcing is an engaging, collaborative practice that is catching on to stimulate innovation and new ideas in R&D and software design.

In asking questions about outsourcing, insourcing and near-sourcing of the executive panel at APICS Inland Empire’s symposium, we heard several great stories. One of them was compelling about the value of crowdsourcing.

Crowdsourcing is the practice of engaging a ‘crowd’ or group for a common goal – often innovation, problem solving, or efficiency. It is powered by new technologies, social media and web 2.0.

It is simply amazing as to what can be achieved with these out-of-the-box strategies. Many big name companies who can put “big bucks” behind their efforts have found that they can achieve far more with crowdsourcing than they can solely with employees alone. Certainly, cash-constrained smaller companies would have a significant challenge funding this expertise. Yet it isn’t all about cost. Innovation and new ideas emerge in these settings.

It is worth considering at least being aware of the power of crowdsourcing. Crowdsourcing can apply to all business and social interactions and so it can apply to almost all aspects of business – hiring, research, manufacturing, marketing etc. Our panelists talked about how it has been used successfully in R&D and software design. Leveraging these types of collaborative practices and tools create disruption and spur innovation. It is definitely a topic to keep your eye on!