How do you speed up the development of the first connected toothbrush when you are the biggest name in hygiene? Procter & Gamble Oral-B responded to this challenge by calling upon eYeka, a platform dedicated to creative crowdsourcing with some 300,000 users worldwide. Within three weeks, Oral-B had received 67 ideas from 28 different countries. P&G’s marketing director, Stephen Squire, summarised the benefits of creative crowdsourcing: “We knew time was critical and the company that could launch the first product would have a huge first-mover advantage. The eYeka community gave us the head start needed and helped us anticipate some of the problems that we had to consider in the development of the product; especially the importance of content, gamification, family interaction and socialisation” (eYeka website).
The neologism “crowdsourcing”, which was introduced in 2006 by Jeff Howe in an article in the American magazine Wired, refers to a business practice that involves tapping into a crowd to draw on their creativity and skills with the aim of generating inventiveness. Crowdsourcing is therefore a form of business outsourcing that is directed at a multitude of potential contributors rather than at other organizations.
Fundamentally, crowdsourcing brings three categories of actors into play: the business that outsources, the crowd that contributes and a collaborative platform that connects the two. This platform can be either a product of the business itself (e.g. Amazon Mechanical Turk, My Starbucks Idea, Dell’s IdeaStorm, Lego Ideas) or a third-party operator with the capacity to assemble a pool of potential contributors. Whatever the platform’s status, they generally manage three types of crowdsourcing: routine tasks (e.g. video camera surveillance), creative activities (e.g. solutions to scientific problems, creation of adverts or new designs) and content supply (photos, thematic information).
Just playing from the designer Rafael Alejandro Garcia
Responsible for creative crowdsourcing, the inventive platforms use competitions to connect businesses seeking solutions and innovative ideas with potential contributors, who are often promised some form of remuneration or reward for the most deserving contributions. These platforms operate in the area of research and development (e.g. YourEncore, InnoCentive, TekScout) or on more specifically marketing-related thematic (e.g. eYeka and Creads).
When managing the optimal experience can attract the top contributors to an inventive platform
The liberating power of inventions
Attracting the most talented contributors and developing their loyalty is a major marketing challenge for inventive platforms. Understanding the top contributors’ experience is therefore likely to help strengthen the efficacy of creative crowdsourcing. This is the viewpoint developed by Morgane Innocent, Patrick Gabriel and Ronan Divard in an article published in the French journal Recherche et Applications en Marketing. Their study, which was based on the interviews and short messages of 93 contributors across 3 creative platforms, reveals the singularity of the inventive experience. Like other forms of consumer experience, it mobilises dimensions relating to pleasure, to the meaning given to the experience and even to the actuation of the individual. But on top of that, the inventive experience brings a rediscovered sense of freedom to the consumers taking part in a competition. This liberating power stems from the perception that the range of possibilities is extended and from the feeling of taking back ownership of the possibilities for individual expression. It supports the personal development of the inventor (the eudemonic dimension of the inventive experience). However, the presence of the liberating power of the inventive experience assumes that the contributor is given a high degree of autonomy by the platform in terms of the way in which they solve the problem posed.
Moments of truth… self-organized by necessity
Despite being invested with the virtue of freedom, the inventive experience does not escape the rule of the optimal experience, which is that any memorable experience must include “moments of truth” characterized by their strong intensity. It is not obvious to the platform manager how they should deal with the emergence of these extraordinary moments because the guiding principle has to be that the contributor is allowed to be self-organized. A welcome suggestion from the researchers in this context consists in helping the future inventor to better evaluate the difficulty of the inventive task. We know from the work of psychologist Csikszentmihalyi that a balance between the contributor’s skills and the demands of the creative task is a good predictor of access to the creative consumer’s optimal experience.
So, are you ready for a liberating experience on an inventive platform?