What is crowdsourcing?

Crowdsourcing is a method to create more and better innovation by solving problems with others.

As a company, you can use crowdsourcing to share a problem with many different stakeholders and ask them to contribute with their proposed solutions. By involving their knowledge and skills, you can increase your innovation capacity.

It is proven that the best solutions often come from unexpected places!

“To me, crowdsourcing is an extra tool we can use to innovate and I believe that we can use it to reach our objective of better concepts and solutions.”

Preben Kirk Elkjær

R&D Manager, Enkotec A/S

What is crowdsourcing?

4 ways to use crowdsourcing

Crowdsourcing can be used in a number of different ways. Here are 4 of the most common in relation to optimizing your innovation efforts through crowdsourcing.


In a crowdsourcing challenge a specific challenge is broadcasted on a platform and everyone interested can suggest a solution for how to solve your challenge. There are often monetary prices involved and you as a challenge provider can choose if the challenge should be closed (solutions can only be seen by you) or open (solutions are open for everyone to see).



In crowdsourcing communities people often work together with others on a solution and ideas are submitted openly. Many of them are based on people’s inner motivation and the participants do not take part for the sake of monetary prizes but because they think it is fun or want to be part of a larger whole. Wikipedia or Dell Ideastorm are examples of crowdsourcing communities.



Product or service add-ons

In this type of crowdsourcing, a company lets the crowd build services or products on their own existing platform, and a market of complementary innovation is made possible. For example, when Apple lets the crowd build apps and podcasts on their iTunes platform.

Freelance markets

Freelance markets connect problem holders with problem solvers. They are used when you know what type of solution you are looking for (e.g. translation of a text, development of a specific website, etc.). There are a number of freelance platforms including Upworks.

Source: Kevin J. Boudreau and Karim R. Lakhani

“Crowdsourcing represents the act of a company or institution taking a function once performed by employees and outsourcing it to an undefined (and generally large) network of people in the form of an open call.”

Jeff Howe

Wired Magazine, 2006

Who can use crowdsourcing,

and what can you use it for?

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