Whitepapers about crowdsourcing, co-creation and open innovation

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Last year, I compiled a selection of academic representations of crowdsourcing, co-creation and open innovation. The post is one of the most popular one of this blog, which indicates that there’s quite some interest in these topics. Now, let me share some whitepapers in a similar manner. Generally speaking, a whitepaper is an authoritative report or guide that helps solve a problem (Wikipedia). It is very common for companies to write commercial whitepapers today, designed to promote their products or services. Leading actors in the fields of crowdsourcing, co-creation and open innovation have written numerous whitepapers to promote their respective categories, and here’s a selection of them.

I only selected whitepapers that have been written and published by actors of the field, like consultancies and platforms, leaving aside brand-initiated documents. Also, the whitepapers are listed in some categories (crowdsourcing/co-creation /open innovation), but the companies might also be associated to several of then (for example, eYeka positions itself on co-creation, but uses crowdsourcing and is sometimes also associated to open innovation)


paid crowdsourcing

Smartsheet is an online project management and collaboration tool, and its offer includes crowdsourcing. Their product “Smartsourcing” allows companies to tap into crowds such as that from Mechanical Turk or Livework’s and to manage this workforce via the platforms’ APIs. Their whitepaper is called Paid Crowdsourcing, Current State & Progress toward Mainstream Business Use and it’s a great resource for everyone interested in finding out about different crowdsourcing applications. This paper is intended to examine the current state of the paid crowdsourcing market and discuss the steps required for it to become a common business practice (quoted) and is the only one to provide an overview of vendors. Beside the fact that it’s a little outdated, even comprising failed platforms like Crowdspirit, its a very complete overview!

Year: 2009

Format: PDF (17 pages)

Content: Overview of crowdsourcing vendors provided by an independent actor

a strategic guide to crowdsourcing a video campaign

GeniusRocket is a new generation of advertising agencies, like Victors & Spoils or Giant Hydra, based on the principle of crowdsourcing (if you’d like to have it explained shortly, check out their video). They curate a rather small crowd of qualified individuals that can produce video content for brands. Their whitepaper therefore focuses on presenting the steps that lead to a successfully implemented crowdsourcing campaign. The format is quite original: it’s not a PDF document, like most of the whitepapers below, but it’s a single web page through which you have to scroll to see their 8 steps. The format allows GeniusRocket to share templates of key documents to assess your business goals, potential crowdsourcing agencies, quality of ideas etc. Great resource!

Year: 2012

Format: Website (1 page)

Content: Tips and documents to crowdsource video campaign ideas

10 Tips for Running a Video Contest for Your Advertising

Zooppa is an Italian-based crowdsourcing with offices in Seattle, WA. The creative crowdsourcing contests hosted on this platform are focused around video ads and print design, and some rare projects around insights generation or sound design. Another important point to notice is that Zooppa’s community is said to be composed by “creative professionals“. Given this positioning, the whitepaper issued by Zooppa focuses on advertising video contests : it gives 10 tips (actually 11) about how to prepare, to run and to leverage video contests to generate advertising content. While the content is great, the format is a little light as it is a list of bullet points rather than a visual, easy-to-read document.

Year: 2012

Format: PDF (8 pages)

Content: Tips to crowdsource an advertising video contest

Eight Ways to Launch Higher Quality Applications and Get to Market Faster with the Crowd

uTest is a crowdsourced testing service for functional, security, load, localization and usability testing of software. The company leverages 60,000+ testers from 190 countries to test web, mobile and desktop applications under real-world conditions. The reason why I include this whitepaper in this selection is that it has a solid part about the advantages of crowdsourcing and it highlights that the heterogeneity of the crowd is essential to get creative and qualitative feedback.

Year: 2011

Format: PDF (8 pages)

Content: Tips to crowdsource testing


ChallengePost is a crowdsourcing platform that runs Challenge.gov for the US government as well as numerous software competitions for private companies on its own community site. In a very interesting interview in June 2012, Brian Koles, business development manager at ChallengePost, explained that the company would increasingly run software and app competitions for its clients, because few other companies of the open innovation and crowdsourcing fields were doing it. Well in March 2013, the company released a couple of guides about best practices in nurturing developer relations and running app competitions. I wonder why they released five different papers rather than doing one whitepaper, but the overall content is very useful anyway!

Year: 2013

Format: 5 PDF documents (from 2 to 11 pages)

Content: Tips to run app contests

Your Starting Guide to Open Innovation and Crowdsourcing Success

TopCoder is one of the big names in crowdsourcing today. “TopCoder is the world’s largest platform for digital open innovation,their website says, “we provide the platform and a community of over 480,000 global members to accelerate the development of new digital products and services for our clients.” To promote their concept of Enterprise Open Innovation and the general concept of crowdsourcing, the team around Clinton Bonner wrote an extensive e-book called Your Starting Guide to Open Innovation and Crowdsourcing Success: 10 Burning Questions on Crowdsourcing. It is designed as a (long) starting guide focused on 10 questions that anyone should be asking to tackle this new approach. A little long for busy executives 😉 but well-designed and very complete!

Year: 2013

Format: Ebook (39 pages)

Content: Extensive illustrated guide to using the TopCoder platform, written as 10 tips

Click to see whitepaper(s)

This whitepaper falls in line with the content marketing trend, specifically in video advertising. “Video content drives communities, commerce and increasingly CMO’s agenda,” the introduction states, “but can brands and their agencies […] succeed in creating engaging, shareable online content that  delivers marketing value?” This short whitepaper, written by Joël Céré from eYeka in collaboration with Coca-Cola, Energizer, Asatsu-DKUnruly and ThisMoment, , offers an introduction to creating, predicting and amplifying social videos that work for consumers AND for brands. Crowdsourcing for video advertising is gaining traction, and this document proves it.

Year: 2013

Format: Whitepaper (10 pages)

Content: Guide to help brands and agencies set up efficient video content strategies

Re-tinking sourcing

In September 2013, Appririo announced that they bought TopCoder, merging it with CloudSpokes, Appirio’s competing platform with 75,000 users. “All enterprises may not have the pull to hire the same coders as Facebook and Google, but using Appirio with TopCoder now can give them the same access to that kind of expertise,” Appirio co-founder Narinder Singh told Techcrunch, stating that the acquisition adds skills in AngularJS, Heroku, HTML5 and Java to CloudSpokes’ offer. In the “Re-Thinking Sourcing” whitepaper, TopCoder keeps its evangelization efforts and explains how “crowdsourcing trumps outsourcing,” as Clinton Bonner explains in his presentation video and the presentation blog post.

Year: 2013

Format: E-book (12 pages)

Content: E-book that outlines 6 ways crowdsourcing is better than traditional outsourcing

Adaptive Sourcing Whitepaper

Here’s another one from, Appririo, which obviously speaks to CIOs by praising crowdsourcing as a way to become flexible and adaptive organizations. Their eBook “How Adaptive Sourcing Helps CIOs Revolutionize Innovative IT Sourcing” looks closely at Gartner’s adaptive sourcing model and examines how crowdsourcing can complement it in order to enable corporations to remain long-term market competitors. One excerpt says: “The need for agility-driven innovation lends itself perfectly for enterprises to use crowdsourcing as a means to fulfill Gartner’s charter of building to adapt,” outlining that using Appirio (formerly TopCoder) is a good way to innovate better and faster. “Crowdsourcing is the most effective way of sourcing IT in order to adapt over the short and long term [and] it eliminates corporate boundaries in the era ofdigital business.” It’s an interesting read, which lacks a “how-to” section I believe.

Year: 2014

Format: E-book (6 pages)

Content: E-book with reflections on crowdsourcing as way to source IT services.

Click to download on eYeka

This one is from eYeka, where a team of strategic planners analyzes the entries that are being submitted to contests, delivering either a simple analysis (thematic clustering, recommendation on potential routes) or a deep analysis (goes further into unlocking insights and trends, often through semiotic analysis) to clients. For this whitepaper, eYeka analyzed 10 retail projects launched on the crowdsourcing platform by large FMCG companies to look for innovative and groundbreaking retail ideas, totaling more than 500 ideas generated by consumers. eYeka found 5 crowdsourced retail trends.

Year: 2014

Format: Whitepaper (8 pages)

Content: Whitepaper presenting 5 trends stemming from a variety of retail-related projects on eYeka.


Online Co-Creation to Accelerate Marketing & Innovation

eYeka calls itself the global market leader in online co-creation, referring to an independent report by Forrester Research. But don’t be mislead by the term, because eYeka actually uses crowdsourcing as a way to engage with consumers globally: they indeed leverage a community of 200,000+ creative consumers to help big brands generate creative ideas and/or user-generated content. Honestly, eYeka is probably the crowdsourcing platform with the broadest service spectrum, from innovation- to branding-, positioning- and advertising-contests. The whitepaper presents the overall paradigm shift of co-creation and its online applications, before suggesting ways to start engaging consumers via online contests.

[Disclaimer: I work as a Research Fellow for eYeka beside pursuing my PhD, and participated in writing this whitepaper]

Year: 2011

Format: PDF (24 pages)

Content: Introduction to co-creation and its online applications

 10 things you need to know about community research

Redesignme is a Dutch company that specializes on online communities (advising on strategy, community building, community management etc.), including innovation and co-creation communities. They also used to run a crowdsourcing platform called Redesignme Connect, but this has recently been shut down because the strategic focus of the company shifted towards custom-built communities. Redesignme’s CEO Maxim Schram has authored a whitepaper, sharing 10 tips “that help you to build your community and use it for community research“. An interesting piece, but it lack’s added value elements like academic references or client testimonials.

Year: 2012

Format: PDF (6 pages)

Content: Success factors to run market research online communities (MROCs)

Co-creation: New pathways to value

Promise Corporation, a London-based consulting firm, calls itself the world’s leading co-creation consultancy. They have worked with an impressive list of clients, and their services include the animation of co-creation workshops, co-creation communities, insights generation or strategy consulting. They have been among the early promoters of co-creation, and have even written a book about it recently. Their whitepaper Co-creation: New pathways to value, issued in 2009, features a lot of examples and academic references showing how co-creation is a new value creation paradigm. I featured it in my post about academic representations as it is a very well-written and well-designed piece. A reference among the whitepapers 😉

Year: 2009

Format: PDF (22 pages)

Content: Presentation of the value co-creation paradigm and examples


Fronteer Strategy is another Dutch consulting firm that has made inroads into co-creation. Fronteer has prestigious clients such as Heineken and KLM, who are known for some spectacular initiatives around consumer involvement. This whitepaper was suggested to me by Martijn Pater, Partner at Fronteer, who commented the post about academic respresentations of crowdsourcing, co-creation and open innovation (thanks again for sharing, Martijn).  Their whitepaper dates back from 2009 is both conceptual and practical, presenting 4 types of co-creation (crowd, community, club and coalition), 5 guiding principles and 4 areas of value creation in co-creation. It also features various real-world examples, so I really recommend the read!

Year: 2009

Format: PDF (22 pages)

Content: Presentation of the value co-creation paradigm and examples

The Spirit of Co-creation Risk-Managed Creativity for Business

Sense Worldwide is, like Promise, a British consulting firm with expertise in co-creation. They provide consulting services, but also leverage of crowdsourcing platform called The Sense Network, but it seems to be a mix of a community and a panel, not sure about that… Anyway, their whitepaper is called The Spirit of Co-creation and dates from 2009, probably the first year of the hype. In the document, they present the basic principles of co-creation, they show how the company applies them (“The Sense approach”) and present three client cases: Nike, Vodafone and Habbo. Another great feature is the “story of co-creation” presented on page 16 of the paper. Another one of the great reads, with few illustrations though.

Year: 2009

Format: PDF (18 pages)

Content: Presentation of the value co-creation paradigm and Sense’s approach to apply it

co-creation: a new source of value

A fellow doctoral student, Pierre Dal Zotto, has shared one of the first articles ever written about co-creation (see comments). While it’s not explicitely a whitepaper, it’s still a piece of thought leadership by a specialized actor of the field: Accenture. In their corporate journal Outlook, three academics affiliated with the Accenture Institute for Strategic Change (“a ‘think and act’ tank dedicated to keeping Accenture among the world leaders in breakthrough management thinking” that doesn’t seem to exist today anymore) highlight that value co-creation is an emerging paradigm that is used by companies such as Cisco Systems or Red Hat. I particularly like the passage about risks and pitfalls, which indicates that it’s not just a blind apology of the concept. Merci Pierre!

Year: 1999

Format: PDF (6 pages)

Content: Article about the emergence of co-creation, including examples, opportunities and risks

co-creation for positive impact enviu

Enviu, the publisher of this whitepaper (presented in a powerpoint-like style), is a Dutch consulting firm. They advise entrepreneurs in ideating and launching their businesses and claim that co-creation is at the center of their process. To me it looks very much like a design-thinking approach too, by the term is not used in this document, rather do they use terms such as co-creation, workshops and crowdsourcing. “With this handbook we aim to share our experience with those aiming to involve a variety of actors for the development of solutions for complex issues,” they say. It’s a very visual presentation with a clear focus on content. And again, to me it looks very similar like previous presentations I saw about design-thinking… but whatever the term, it describes the involvement of several stakeholders in the innovation process.

Year: 2011

Format: PDF (39 slides)

Content: Guide targetting entrepreneurs and explaining the benefits of co-creation to launch a sustainable business

Open Innovation

Creating a Global Innovation Network to Better Serve Consumers

Procter & Gamble’s pioneering open innovation network Connect+Develop has been introduced in 2003 as a strategic tool to foster innovation. “We partner with small companies, multi-nationals, individual inventors, and in some cases, even our competitors, to bring game-changing innovations to market,” says P&G on the program website. To present the program to the world and, more precisely, potential partners to include into the network, P&G released this whitepaper that presents the program, its objectifs and benefits of collaboration with the firm. A very practical whitepaper, very much focused on benefits for businesses.

Year: 2003

Format: PDF (8 pages)

Content: Presentation of the Connect+Develop initiative, promotion towards potential partners

White Paper Open Innovation! Dr. Michael Bartl

Hyve is a consultancy whose work I’ve blogged about several times already: the dangers of crowdsourcing, consumer creativity across cultures, co-creation videos, market research online communities, motivations to co-create are only a few topics related to their work. Hyve has an impressive track record of academic references and corporate clients, check out some of their projects on their directory website innovation-community.de. This whitepaper is written by Dr. Micahel Bartl, but even if it’s in German I wanted to feature it as I think the company deserves to be among all the other actors here.  It’s very practical, has numerous illustrations and examples (Audi, Swarowski etc.) related to Hyve’s early work.

Year: 2008

Format: PDF (9 pages)

Content: Presentation of open innovation illustrated with client cases

White Paper: Harnessing the Global Talent Pool to Accelerate Innovation

InnoCentive is the most famous Open Innovation company out there. The Massachussets-based company that spun-off from pfarmaceutical company Eli Lilly is very often cited as THE example for open innovation. InnoCentive democratized open innovation with competitions on its private platform, but its offer is now much broader and includes a wide array of services to implement open innovation in companies. They have made huge thought leadership efforts to push the category of open innovation (see their Resources page) and this whitepaper, Harnessing the Global Talent Pool to Accelerate Innovation, is one of them. It presents the advantages of open innovation, mostly acceleration, relevance and cost, and is illustrated with client quotes and (the almost mandatory) success case of P&G.

Year: 2012

Format: PDF (14 pages)

Content: Presentation of the advantages of open innovation, illustrated and explained

Defining Success in Open Innovation

Ninesigma is a very similar actor to InnoCentive: the implement open innovation, they run innovation contests on their website… to me be it just seems that they’re different in their positioning (am I wrong?). They have recently launched a social-network-like site called NineSights, probably a way to revive the contest-model by adding a collaboration aspect to it. It’s strategically interesting in an age where platforms are struggling to attract high-profile community members to participate in their challenges… and initiate challenge themselves. The executive summary of their whitepaper, also issued in 2008, says that it “outlines a few ways that NineSigma’s customers have extracted value from participating in the open innovation marketplace“.

Year: 2008

Format: PDF (8 pages)

Content: Presentation of the advantages of open innovation, illustrated and explained

Download the "State of Crowdsourcing 2015" trend report

For the first time since the beginning of the crowdsourcing phenomenon, this report takes a step back to look at the evolution of corporate crowdsourcing since the mid-2000s. By analyzing objective and verifiable data sources like my crowdsourcing timeline, spanning crowdsourcing activity from over ten years, we extracted some important insights about the state of crowdsourcing. Key findings include the fact that 85% of the 2014 Best Global Brands have used crowdsourcing for marketing and innovation across the globe. See more on this press release (including the press clippings about it at the bottom), this infographic, and download the full report here.

Year: 2015

Format: PDF (18 pages)

Content: Trend report presenting the evolution adoption & usage of crowdsourcing, and major industry players.

Please d’ont hesitate to share other interesting content, I’d be glad to feature it here it it fits in 😉 Thank you!


    1. Merci Pierre, je ne connaissais pas ce papier d’Accenture sur la co-création (1999!). Je vais l’inclure en te citant. J’ai aussi lu ton papier sur la co-création (colloque AIM 2011) que je trouve très intéressant. N’hésites pas à partager de prochains articles avec moi 😉 Bonne continuation!


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