In this Roundtable Discussion we explore the leading benefits, challenges and techniques for engaging public crowds. Using key success stories we examine the extent to which we can overcome key pain points and harness the general public to support innovation.

Truly reaching out to the public can prove an intimidating moment for any organization. Brand protection, possibility of negative press and time commitment of managing the crowd all provide significant points of fear for organization when contemplating undertaking a broad, public crowdsourcing project. These projects differ significantly from employee or partner-focused initiatives in the extent to which these fears can outweigh the perceived benefits.

Presenters Lindsay Rentz and James Baillie from IdeaBuzz talk through the process of alleviating these fears, while also expanding on how to generate the best possible outcomes.

The success-stories are there; from the Department of Energy’s revolutionary new Sunshot Catalyst program to Procter & Gamble’s Connect + Develop and smaller organizations such as Magneti Marelli’s global Laptime Club, it is clear that getting confident and competent at large-scale public crowdsourcing can add immense value.

Case studies

The presenters draw on direct experience with the following programs:

US Department of Energy – In 2014 The Department of Energy began running its Sunshot Catalyst Initiative to contribute to its goal of making solar energy cost-competitive with other forms of electricity. The project was open to the general public and was effectively split into two categories; 1) a general ideation campaign that allowed for the general public to actively engage in the creation of problem statements and; 2) a business innovation phase that matched these problem statements with business proposals that could be funded through to completion.

Ushahidi – The Making All Voices Count initiative aims to engage the public in the creation of technology that is conceived and designed for the developing world. To do this they have actively and successfully engaged and trained entrepreneurs to provide exciting new solutions to problems found in their communities and regions.

Magneti Marelli – The Italian automotive technology company has over 38,000 employees and 12 R&D centers. It has used its LapTime Club to successfully produce products and has cut their normal R&D times in half: the community’s members are 85% external to the company and provide an insightful community highly invested in what the company produces.


Key take-aways from this session include:

  1. Understand the differences and key benefits of collaborating with the crowd as part of your innovation program (instead of following the traditional closed innovation program)
  2. Learn the principal difficulties of instituting a public innovation community and four key communications strategies to implement when collaborating with the public.
  3. Learn about three examples of successful open innovation that involved the public to create positive change.

About IdeaScale

IdeaScale is an innovation management platform that uses crowdsourcing to help you find and develop the next big thing. IdeaScale is the largest cloud-based innovation software platform in the world with more than 25,000 customers and 4 million users. The software allows organizations to involve the opinions of public and private communities by collecting their ideas and giving users a platform to vote. The ideas are then evaluated, routed, and implemented, making IdeaScale the engine of crowd-powered innovation. IdeaScale’s client roster includes industry leaders, such as Adobe, Cisco, the Department of Homeland Security, Marriott, the US Navy, NBC, Xerox, and many more.

About the Experts

Jessica Day is the VP of Communications for IdeaScale – the world’s largest innovation management platform with over 25,000 communities and 4.5 million users. As part of her position, she analyzes the success of innovation communities for customers like the White House, Citrix, Fiat, Georgetown University, global NGOs and others. She received her Masters from the University of Washington. Day also blogs about crowd-based innovation and idea management on various innovation blogs, including the industry-leading IdeaScale blog.

Lindsay Rentz leads Crowd Engagement and Challenge Development in IdeaBuzz, the latest offering from IdeaScale. She comes from a background in marketing, with a degree in psychology. In her role, she optimizes challenges for continued engagement and participation quality through consultation, open innovation strategy, and challenge design and management. Rentz consults with IdeaBuzz customers on the development of goals and parameters for their innovation challenges.

James Baillie graduated from Cambridge with 1st Class Honors and a social science background, before joining the IdeaScale team in a consulting role aimed at managing open innovation and crowdsourcing projects for IdeaScale’s user base. Since then he has worked to coordinate IdeaScale’s work with consultants and partners and recently was part of the core team to launch IdeaScale’s public ideation platform; IdeaBuzz.