Fear the crowd — pitfalls of crowdsourcing for innovators


This article, written by Fish's Kristen McCallion first appeared in Intellectual Property Magazine, November 2012.

Considered "the biggest paradigm shift in innovation since the Industrial Revolution", crowdsourcing can be described simply as the act of outsourcing a task or project via the internet to a large group of people. Crowdsourcing is among the newest innovations to arise out of the incredible surge in global collaboration and communication enabled by the internet which is fostered by our social media-obsessed culture.

Crowdsourcing enables companies to take advantage of the notion that "a crowd can be smarter than any one of its members, even when they're not actually working together". By allowing consumers to decide what they want and to create what they want, crowdsourcing turns the traditional business model on its head.

From giant corporations to revolutionary start-ups, many companies employ and benefit from crowdsourcing. For example, Starbucks launched an online forum, 'My Starbucks Idea', where individuals submit and vote on suggestions about virtually anything from new coffee to more favorable lighting in Starbucks cafes. Starbucks has implemented many of the top-rated ideas in their business model.

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