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:

bofa_small

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.