26 September 2018

Why Open Innovation and Why Crowd Sourcing?

Why Open Innovation and Why Crowd Sourcing?

SAIS 2 aims to be a platform connecting innovation ecosystems and harnessing the power of open knowledge-sharing among organizations supporting entrepreneurship in Southern Africa. One practical example of this approach is the Annual Southern Africa Innovation Forum 2018 (ASAIF), where open innovation methods were used to collect thematic content including nominations of speakers. This made the event truly regional and enhanced the ownership with the target audience. 


ASAIF took place in Cape Town, South Africa on 12 September. SAIS 2 and Connected Hubsdesigned the content for the event ensuring that representation from all of the five partner countries of SAIS 2 – Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia – were included. To engage with the target audience prior to the event, SAIS 2 and Connected Hubs crowd-sourced nominations of speakers with the use of an open innovation platform, Viima.


SAIS 2 is happy to have partnered in kind with Viima Solutions for 2018. This partnership allowed piloting of crowd-sourcing in the Southern African context. The approach was new and welcomed with curiosity. The value of engaging openly with stakeholders was well recognized, albeit the use of technology to deliver this type of services was still new among some. Going forward, we learned that when using this type of a service, good preparation and careful curation during the process are key factors for succeeding.

But what is open innovation and crowd-sourcing, and how could it benefit your organization?


Open Innovation Is Here To Stay

More and more organizations are challenging the primarily internally focused, traditional, R&D innovation funnel, and open innovation seems to be here to stay.

And for good reason, there are many benefits to practicing open innovation:

  • Diversity of thinking: the best ideas often originate from a different perspective

  • Access to talent and expertise that would otherwise not be possible

  • Accelerated learning due to exposure to new ideas and insights

  • Potential network effects in marketing your goals and/or business

Open innovation is quite a diverse area and can be a difficult topic to grasp, so if you’d like to get a better idea of what it can mean in practice, you might want to take a look at this list of 16 examples of open innovation. The short explanation would be that open innovation is a form of innovation practice that utilizes both internal and external knowledge and insight to accelerate innovation.


Why Crowd-sourcing?

One of the most interesting concepts that have been born from open innovation is that of crowd-sourcing. Thanks to technology, it’s now very straightforward to invite the crowds to participate and work with you on a specific topic, for example by running an idea challenge to try to solve one of your key challenges as an organization or team.

While the aforementioned benefits of open innovation also apply for crowd-sourcing, there are two additional reasons that make us so excited about the applications of crowd-sourcing, namely: 

  • The ability to drive practical results

  • The ability to engage key stakeholders in the process

First of all, crowd-sourcing is a great tool for getting input on, and solving practical issues because it allows you to funnel the experience, insights and observations of a large number of people. This gives you the ability to refine them to a highly practical format such as ideas or problem definitions, much faster, easier and cheaper than ever before.

Crowd-sourcing allows you to funnel the experience, insights and observations of a large number of people and refine them to a highly practical format, such as ideas or problem definitions

In addition, the ability to engage key stakeholders, such as customers or partners, easily and effortlessly in the process is a tremendous asset for an organization to have. Not only does that provide for an easy and effective way to listen to their needs, but it also enables the organization to have a meaningful two-way discussion based on those needs. This obviously leads to deeper understanding on both sides and helps build a more detailed relationship between the parties. The organizations that embrace openness and can harness the power of their networks can leverage those capabilities to help drive innovation and serve as a source of competitive advantage.

SAIS 2 aims to be a platform engaging openly with its networks and stakeholders. After ASAIF, the piloting of crowd-sourcing in developing programme activities continues. We are currently crowd-sourcing themes for a networking event coming up in Helsinki on 29.11.2018 – save the date, and nominate your expert now.