Can Business Be Crowdsourced? 135 Real-World Examples

Public collaboration, network effects, crowdsourcing – call it what you will, the read/write web is based largely on projects where the value of the whole is greater than the sum of countless parts. Those parts are contributed by individual people all over the world, often for free. It’s world-changing stuff, but can businesses make effective use of this paradigm?

Anjali Ramachandran, a strategist at London-based digital agency Made by Many, has compiled a very useful list of 135 real-world examples of businesses leveraging crowd contributions online. From small projects like the collaborative advertising creation project FatMuffin to big company efforts like SAP’s Ecosystem, this list is great for inspiration and context.

The web is proving to be quite disruptive to all kinds of old approaches to doing business, but there’s still a shortage of case studies when it comes to new paradigms like crowdsourcing. Ramachandran’s list doesn’t include any evaluation of the various programs’ effectiveness yet, but it’s a great place to start. The big list is separated into four parts and each is sortable by project, sector and country of origin. If you’d like to search inside the project and company websites for all 135 examples, we’ve pulled those links into this custom search engine.

The Crowdsourcing List is itself a crowdsourced effort. It’s a wiki, so other people can sign up to contribute more examples; it’s been spread around Twitter through retweets and hit the most popular page of social bookmarking site Delicious without having had any media or blog coverage yet as far as we can see.

Lists like this are a great way to add value to conversations on the web and they help technology changes feel all the more tangible. It brings to mind the new Creative Commons database of case studies. Crowdsourcing in particular is something that we’ve written about extensively here on ReadWriteWeb.

Thanks, Anjali, for putting together this list!

Photo above CC from Flickr user Chris Hambly.

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