I’m happy to present the first visualization of the use of crowdsourcingby brands over time. This interactive timeline, called Crowdsourcing by World’s Best Global Brands, is built on Tiki-Toki, a tool to create timelines. Tiki-Toki turned out to be a good way to show how the use of crowdsourcing has exploded since the early 2000’s. The objective was indeed to have a rich and visual representation of how brands increasingly use of crowdsourcing to pursue marketing- and innovation-related business objectives. And the best part is: it will be crowdsourced.
Why a timeline?
Timelines are great way to visualize the occurence of past events, but also the evolution of a phenomenon. In recent years, crowdsourcing has proven to be a valuable way to access external knowledge, and a timeline was a simple yet effective way to show just that. Industry observer Ross Dawson has pioneered the idea with his timeline of acceleration of crowdsourcing, which even goes back to earlier centuries and government-funded innovation competitions. My version takes a narrower, academic definition of crowdsourcing, and is therefore focused on more recent crowdsourcing initiatives.
Here’s a screenshot of the timeline at the moment of the release:
This timeline shows how the world’s most valuable brands (the 100 brands included in Interbrand’s Best Global Brands ranking) use crowdsourcing. Rather than being a one-time illustration of how brands increasingly use crowdsourcing, I would like it to become a participative reference page to gather and display information about brand-sponsored crowdsourcing initiatives. In order to make it as complete as possible, you’re eagerly invited to contribute by submitting crowdsourcing initiatives that I might have missed.
What is the scope of this timeline?
But before, just let me explain the scope of the timeline as it is today:
- Definition of crowdsourcing: Crowdsourcing is defined as the process of posting a problem online, having a vast number of individuals offering solutions to the problem, awarding the winning ideas with some form of a bounty, and using this input for innovation, marketing or communication (Brabham, 2008).
- Type of crowdsourcing initiatives: Among the various forms of crowdsourcing that exist (Brabham, 2010; Schenk & Guittard, 2011; Pénin & Burger Helmchen; Geiger et al., 2011; Lampel et al., 2012), let’s limit the scope of this timeline to creative crowdsourcing i.e. web-based, distributed problem-solving were people are asked to contribute with creative output. This would leave aside micro-tasks or data-sourcing, focusing on crowdsourcing were peoples’ creative problem-solving skills are sollicited. The most common forms of such initiatives are innovation tournaments, idea contests, creative competitions or branded web-platforms for idea generation.
- Involvement of brands: We have limited the events of this timeline to crowdsourcing initiated and leveraged by brands for their innovation and/or marketing efforts. Sponsored initiatives (such as the Sony World Photography Awards) will be left out since the output is not directly used by the company.
- Brands in the scope of this timeline: As I already said above, the world’s most valuable brands are the 100 brands included in Interbrand’s Best Global Brands ranking. Our basis is the 2011 edition of the ranking, and the timeline will be updated with new entrants of the subsequent rankings.
I’m aware that these “rules” probably exclude some interesting crowdsourcing initiatives, but the objective is really to represent how, and how much, brands use crowdsourcing in their innovation and/or marketing processes. Don’t hesitate to comment on this post if you have suggestions for improvements and/or if you don’t agree with the above. I’d be glad to see a discussion emerge – even if…
discussion is only effective if you can stop people talking Clement Attlee
Participate to build this knowledge base!
There are probably crowdsourcing initiatives that have been missed as this timeline is being launched. To make it as comprehensive as possible, you are invited to contribute to this interactive document by submitting crowdsourcing cases that you know of. To do that, and to be listed as a contributor of the timeline (I can add a link to your website if you want), you just have to send an email to email@example.com. Please make sure that…
- The initiative you submit falls into the scope of the timeline (see above)
- You provide a title, background information, results and outcomes
- You provide some visuals and/or videos to illustrate it
- You describe the initiative citing external sources
Last but not least…
Hopefully, your valuable help will allow us to build a rich, visual knowledge base! But the more information there will be on the timeline, the harder it will be to navigate. To help you to browse the timeline, there are some fantastic functionnalities hidden at the bottom right hand corner of the timeline:
- Search for text: If you’re looking for all the crowdsourcing initiatives by a particular brand, on a specific crowdsourcing platform, in a country… all you have to do is use the search function. You’ll be surprised!
- Refine categories: Only interested in video contests? Or would you like to leave out idea contests from the timeline? No problem, you can select/unselect categories as you want
- Personalize visualization: Would you like to have events displayed differently? Or are you interested in visualizing the duration of the crowdsourcing initiatives? You’ll find various options to adapt visualization to your needs. At least I hope so!