Crowdsourcing for innovation, a visual confirmation of the trend


Images via, and

I like visualizations, as much as I like to write about the trend of crowdsourcing. Since the term is certainly overused (as in this article about an “crowdsourced” electric vehicle, which is actually the result of an innovation cluster), what do you think about getting back to some facts about crowdsourcing-platforms? I mean websites like InnoCentive, Hyve, Jovoto or Zooppa which leverage a crowd of contributors to participate in online-hosted contests. Let me share my visual perspective about 2011, a year in which crowdsourcing gained a lot of steam!

Let’s start with a mash-up of these websites’ taglines. 99design‘s tagline is “Design Done Differently“, Chaordix‘s tagline is “Crowd Intelligence“, YourEncore‘s tagline is “Accelerating Innovation Through Proven Experience” and Talenthouse‘s tagline is “Creative Collaboration“. Now take 100 of them (contest platforms, creative networks, agencies, consultancies…) and you’ll get a beautiful word cloud:


Obviously it’s really about innovation! This seems quite normal, since companies and organizations are looking for innovation desperately, whatever the means. The words “co-creation”, “community”, “design” or “crowdsourcing” are means to be innovative, exactly as “innovation” is a mean to be more profitable in the end. Next, let’s have a look at these websites’ origin. Reuters just showed that most innovating companies come from the USA, and GE’s Innovation Barometer similarly showed the the States are leading the pack… Well, here again, you’ll see clearly:


Wow! The United States have indeed jumped on the train of crowdsourcing: the most notable name is probably the Massachussets-based open innovation platform InnoCentive. There are lots of others: CrowdTap is specialized on crowdsourced consumer engagement, GeniusRocket does video-contests, LogoTournament does graphic design… Who comes from elsewhere? Leading actors include eYeka or Hypios from France, Zooppa or DesignBoom from Italy, Hyve or Jovoto from Germany, Sense or Promise from the UK, JadeMagnet or Ideaken from India or TaskCN and Witmart from China.

Now let’s have a look at some figures about crowdsourcing-platforms. Let’s take 10 of them (I won’t say their names, but they are leading platforms, similar to the ones cited above) and look back at 2011:


We can see that over the year of 2011, the number of projects on these 10 platforms has dramatically increased (43%). This shows that, behind the buzz generated around the technique of crowdsourcing, companies are also actually embracing it! But what about participants, whether they are passionate amateurs, creative professionals, retired scientists or simply consumers? Do they follow this trend?


Obviously they do. This chart indicates that on the 10 platforms that I selected, the total registered members increased from 622,500 to 704,000 members, which represents more than 13%. I can’t really figure out if that’s a lot, but it’s definitely worthwhile noticing, no? The final figure is a little challenging:


This chart indicates that participation on the sites that I selected does not pick-up. This might seem logical, given the fact that the number of projects increases more than the registered members on these platforms… But it also highlights a crucial need for better understanding of participants’ motivations to participate, their time available and the type of tasks they are willing to perform. Peoples’ motivations to participate in co-creation and/or crowdsourcing is a widely explored topic in academic research, but the research stream is a very young one. One of the first papers I know of concludes that…

A distributed innovation system [requires] a fundamental reorientation of views about incentives, task structure, management, and intellectual property (Lakhani & Panetta, 2007)

A fascinating topic, where there’s still a lot to be discovered! What do you think? Do you have any comments or remarks?

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