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The democratisation of technology 2.0 is on the horizon. For a while through the HEINEKEN HR Brewhouse, we have been working directly with start-ups and scale-ups to co-create innovative solutions to our challenges. It has been a huge success but how can we take innovation to the next level?
Every organisation is unique, but on a higher level the challenges we are facing all look the same. So imagine how much more innovation could thrive if organisations joined up with each other to crowdsource challenges. The challenge is that it is not obvious what combination of values, people, skills and technology will make up our solution.
The good news is that the best solution is out there somewhere. If we join up to co-invest in these solutions, we can get there faster together. How we choose to deploy and embed these solutions into our organisation will be unique to each company’s culture, values, behaviours and needs. It is similar to how we all have a set of apps on our phones. We have the ability to download the same apps, but the exact combination and how we use them in our lives, is unique to the individual.
Crowdsourcing Vs Competition
Many will resist this idea and cite competition as the reason to not crowdsource solutions to challenges. There is no need for businesses to be afraid of sharing their challenges, even with their competitors. We are unique in mission, vision, values, behaviours and capabilities. Together this makes up our own unique DNA which is impossible to copy.
Although we may invest in the same digital solutions, the way we use those solutions vastly differs from company to company. It is like the way we each use smartphones. Although we all have the same smartphones in our pockets, the way we choose to use that technology and the apps that we invest in, are different. On a macro level, whilst companies may use the same technology solutions, the way they implement and deploy them is different. These unique ‘solution combinations’ are driven by an organisation’s individual business strategy and will help them achieve the ‘must win’ battles critical to their transformation journey.
An ecosystem of companies
What if we could create a whole ecosystem of organisations crowdsourcing challenges to find solutions? From large organisations, to small businesses, from universities to start-ups and scale-ups, we want the whole value chain to be involved. As a network, let’s collectively bring our challenges to the marketplace.
There are so many benefits to doing this together. It will increase the speed of innovation and reduce cost and development time. Instead of trying to solve something in perfect isolation, we can tune into the wisdom of the crowd and co-create.
Crowdsourcing innovation is happening
Brands are already having great success with crowdsourcing innovation. LEGO being one of the most famous. The LEGO Ideas platform allows users to submit ideas for new LEGO sets and then customers can vote on their favourite ideas. Since the launch of the platform, LEGO has produced many new kits based on ideas submitted from their community.
In the beauty world, Nivea’s NX Accelerator is working directly with start-ups in Korea to co-create the future of the industry. The first round launched in April 2019 and last year Nivea reported that the average growth rates for start-ups in the program was 130%.
PepsiCo’s ‘Do us a Flavor’ campaign asked customers to share their ideas for new potato chip flavours. The result was an amazing 14 million idea submissions and an 8% increase in sales following the campaign.
Samsung’s Strategy and Innovation Center is perhaps a bit closer to what we are aiming for here. It’s a global hub for start-ups and small technology businesses that helps improve Samsung products through crowdsourcing. What if HR leaders could take this a step further and create a co-owned innovation hub open to challenges from lots of big companies? By not being the only big fish in the pond, we can pool wisdom from the crowd and solve challenges more quickly.
This is an entirely new space and way of working for companies so will require a big change in mindset. Sharing in a competitive context can create fear. But if we accept that a company’s DNA is unique, then you have to ask, ‘What are you afraid of?’.
An ecosystem like this would be a win-win-win: for the start-ups, for companies and for employees. Those who join will ultimately outperform those who don’t.
I believe that nothing is ever finished, only upgraded. Crowdsourcing challenges offer organisations a new approach to co-creating and co-sourcing technology solutions. Do you agree; do you you think that co-creating in crowdsourcing networks that co-create and build solutions together is ‘the new normal’. I can’t wait to hear from you.
#WeAreHeineken #FutureOfWork #TechAndBeer #FutureOfInnovation
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