What is Crowdsourcing?
Crowdsourcing is the practice of obtaining services and ideas by asking for contributions from a large group of people, usually through online communities, instead of soliciting them from internal employees. It’s just like outsourcing, but the task can be outsourced to thousands of people all over the world who operate independently from each other. The people involved in crowdsourcing may provide their services in exchange for recognition, experience or low pay rates. Some companies today are using the social media and forums to invite people to participate in their new projects.
The energy industry can truly benefit from crowdsourcing. Since this industry is always at the forefront of technological advancements and research, they can use crowdsourcing to gather unique ideas and solutions that can broaden their perspectives.
The energy industry can post challenging problems online and give an award to anyone who can provide the best solutions. The Italian energy company called Enel used crowdsourcing by posting eight challenges online. Many bright minds responded to this challenge and gave outstanding solutions to the challenges given by the energy company. The challenges include the method for removing ice buildup on electrical distribution lines, a method for cleaning photovoltaic panels in the field, and a wireless communication system that will work in tunnels and other confined spaces. The benefit of crowdsourcing is that the energy sector can provide more diversity in their challenges and issues that they want to bring up.
Access to Out-of-the-Box Ideas
The energy industry uses crowdsourcing to access out-of-the-box ideas. This means that they can get ideas or solutions that have different perspectives. Crowdsourcing offers non-traditional solutions that are not usually constrained by preconceptions of how energy solutions should look like. You have to remember that crowdsourcing is composed of people who have different specializations and expertise. The tasks posted by the energy company can obtain unexpected solutions that can surprisingly work for them. A doctor, engineer, inventor, or a bright student may have this unique idea that can benefit the energy sector.
The energy industry can use crowdsourcing without disclosing the company behind the project. This means that the owner of the task or project is anonymous to the people. An energy company can do this in order to find more unexpected solutions coming from people with different technical backgrounds. The problem can also be made more abstract to increase the diversity of the solutions.
Usually, the energy sector uses crowdsourcing to find external expertise that they do not have internally. They can use it to get different viewpoints to a particular problem or task. Crowdsourcing can also be used to speed up existing projects and internal work through different contributions of innovative ideas. The energy industry wants new ideas and solutions that can expedite innovation, and the best way to find it is through crowdsourcing. Today, there are several energy companies that are turning to crowdsourcing companies to help them with certain tasks and projects. Crowdsourcing communities are being created all over the world to help with the different challenges that are critical to advancing certain innovations.