Employee innovation through enterprise crowd funding

Few days back I came across really interesting concept from IBM about enterprise crowdfunding– thanks for the tip @jsydanmaanlakka

IBM has been testing an enterprise crowd funding platform to turn decision making process upside down by giving the opportunity for the “crowd”, their own employees, to invest on development projects. Once the funding target is reached the project will be started.

I have successfully gone through one Kickstarter project and I absolutely love the idea of giving an opportunity to the crowd to participate and invest on projects they relate to so I was thrilled to see this attitude being implemented in a large enterprise environment. However I couldn’t understand why IBM was stuck on money as the commodity. Even in public crowd funding projects in Kickstarter and Indiegogo the money is only part of the benefit for crowd funding and its value is decreasing as even larger companies, studios and artists have started to utilize crowd funding platforms. Aside money, the key drivers for crowd funding  are publicity, creating dialogue with end users, communities, co-creation and most importantly creating something meaningful.

So how can this be translated into enterprise environment where time = money?

Solution lies in competence exchange. Giving possibility for employees to fund projects that they see beneficial and projects they have passion for by allocating their personal competence for project’s use. Industrial designer can commit to fund one day per month of design expertise, analyst can commit to analyze the market potential of the new invention, patent expert can commit to file a patent application and a junior engineer can commit to follow up and help where ever help is needed in order to learn and develop own skills while giving perhaps crucial resources for the projects use.

Results of enterprise crowd funding should:

– lower the barrier to start new development projects

– turn the decision making process upside down and utilize the “crowd” (employees) in decision making

– more efficient use of competences throughout the organisation – emphasize entrepreneurial way of working

– allow employees to work on projects they truly have passion for

– allow small scale job rotation and talent transfer across organisation

I am looking forward to see what IBM’s results are and wouldn’t be surprised if other players would rise for this market opportunity. What do you think – can crowd funding be utilized within enterprises?

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