Crowdsourcing Creates CAD Groundswell
Design News (01/12) Vol. 67, No. 1, P. 52; Stackpole, Beth
The practice of crowdsourcing is being revitalized through the emergence of new social networking, visualization, and Web 2.0 technologies and pioneering firms such as Local Motors and Quirky, which are building entire businesses and unique product development models based on the concept of a co-creation platform. The Local Motors startup car company uses the Local Forge open community platform so that a wealth of participants can be solicited to submit ideas, supply commentary and feedback, and eventually vote on the optimal design to serve as a final vehicle concept to move into production. "This idea that you can put a request out to a community, have people submit designs, have others critique and help refine them, and through that process, co-create a final design is one of the more exciting aspects," notes Siemens PLM Software's Karsten Newbury. "Where it gets interesting is when people come together as a team and their teamwork yields better results." The application of crowdsourcing concepts and practices to traditional engineering organizations to nurture innovation and streamline product development processes remains an open question, and the probable evolution will be for companies to apply crowdsourcing methods to specific stages of the product development process, rather than completely supplanting conventional engineering practices with the co-creation strategy. "Crowdsourcing is best used as an idea generator," says consultant Ken Versprille. "You can incorporate it into your business practices, but you can't build a business model on it. You can't depend on the fact that every year you'll get the idea you need—it's on a year-to-year, product-to-product basis." Crowdsourcing is envisioned by most engineering experts as having the most profound impact on the early ideation phase.