Four Ways to Use the Crowd for Innovation

A successful business includes finding a problem someone is willing to pay to solve.  It sounds easy, but coming up with new problems to solve can be difficult.  What is even more difficult is finding the right solution.  Fortunately for us, there are many resources that leverage the sentiment of the crowd to not only come up with problems, but also allow for the discovery of new solutions.

Public Brainstorming

It is well known that ideas create other ideas.  The more ideas one has the easier it is to combine like ideas or spin off a completely new one.  Quirky is an online invention platform and is great for generating ideas. Although the company has recently gone into bankruptcy their invention platform is full of ideas that address real problems. By reading through the thousands of posts, someone else’s idea may inspire your next great idea.

Product Review Analytics

As consumers we spend many hours reading product reviews prior to making a purchase.  What you may not have thought of is using those product reviews as a way to create a new product or service. We mentioned earlier that it is difficult finding a problem to solve.  Many consumers who leave product reviews are basically telling you they have a problem and the item they purchased was either good or bad at solving that problem.  Platforms like Channel Signal offer companies the ability to collect their product reviews, analyze them and then the companies take these key insights and turn them into new products or adjust products they currently have. Product reviews are such a powerful tool for creating new product and fixing old ones that Amazon has sued people for leaving false reviews.

Mechanical Turk

Mechanical Turk is a crowdsourcing internet market place.  There are literally thousands of people waiting to complete tasks on Mechanical Turk.  Let’s assume you want to get some market research done, you can easily create a campaign and within minutes the research is done and waiting for you.  This tool can be used to discover customer problems as well as potential solutions to those problems.  You have to get creative in the way you ask questions, but the results can be extremely useful.  Other sites like can be used in this way, if you get creative in the tasks you are presenting.

Hit the Streets

There is a story about Stanford business students who were given a handful of paperclips to start a business.  In a four hour time period the group made close to $23,000.  How is this possible? Some groups were limited by what they could physically do with the paperclips.  However, this group recognized the paperclips were not a limitation, which allowed them to think clearly about other options. The students decided to hit the streets to talk to random people.  They asked two simple question: Do you have a problem? Would you pay us to solve this problem? These questions resulted in the students holding a brain storming session with a stranger (client) who paid them with computer monitors valued at $23,000.
All of these options have one theme in common, get to the end user as quick as possible.  Through Channel Signal companies have seen the value of using customer reviews as a source to create new products or services or fix existing ones. We believe aggregating and measuring product reviews to understand problems makes creating new and innovative solutions much easier.