It happens here: Consumer-centric Innovation in Charlotte and beyond

Unstructured Crowdsourcing: A funny thing happened on the way to the bank by Nheeda Enriquez

I recently checked my “Bank Mail” via my Bank of America account and caught this message:


click image for larger screenshot

I’m assuming B of A’s legal department installed a disclaimer after a customer saw an idea that was similar to one they had submitted through their account mail box.  A quick Google search on “Unsolicited Idea Submission Policy” turned up Apple, Fruit of the Loom, and Intego (virus software) with similar caveats.

Crowdsourcing, or the ability for outsiders to influence the product development process, has slowly become popular with companies to engage their customers (or even internal employees not involved with the product or service.)  It becomes an opportunity to leverage the collective wisdom of a user base.  But I guess without a structured way for folks to submit their ideas (a la Black & Decker or Starbucks,) you rely on whatever way you have to reach someone at the company.

BusinessWeek’s Innovation and Design section examines the future of crowdsourcing, which includes issues with underpaying inventors or hairy legal issues like the one above.

5 Comments so far
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Haha, that is too funny. “Do not send us your ideas, no matter what!”

Crowdsourcing has its place and I have seen it be successful with some people. There are quite a few disadvantages, though, so caution (or at least some good planning) is important when implementing a crowdsourcing element to your business.

Thanks for the links and the interesting story. 🙂

Comment by Leo

Hi nheeda – I like your blog! I had a friend who worked in the animation department at Disney, back when they still had an animation department (it’s mostly outsourced now). They were adamant about not hearing new story ideas from the outside, to the point that my friend would get nervous when we discussed ideas for books that we were going to write or other such whimsical conversations. The funny thing is, since she was laid off from Disney she’s been pursuing writing original material herself! I think these big corporations can become very vulnerable and need to protect their shareholders’ interests to the point that they become insulated from the customer base that supports them.

Comment by sarah

It’s too bad disney’s animation department doesn’t take advantage of something their consumer products division is doing…I just ran into this article after I read your comment:

Comment by Nheeda Enriquez

[…] a local constituency is not necessarily a new concept, and it certainly falls in the category of crowdsourcing.  Even the Obama administration has been putting structures in place to ensure the transparency of […]

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[…] | Tags: bank of america, financial services, microsoft surface, service prototyping I recently posted about Bank of America and its innovation activities and I’m about to do it again.  One […]

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