Many companies in the past have looked to the public for help when they need a new idea and want to find it at a low internal cost. Often they disguise this request for help as “a contest to find the best…” and offer a prize. This process is commonly described as “crowd sourcing” and it has been very useful to many companies. The list of companies engaged in crowd sourcing is long and now has another esteemed member: the US military.
The US Marines are looking for a new amphibious military vehicle. With defense contractors eating up too much of the budget designing the vehicle, the US military is looking for some lay persons to spice up the mix and provide the research and development. Although security concerns mean not everyone will be able to participate, small businesses, large corporations and even academia can throw their hat in for a chance to win the $2 million grand prize for best total design. This level of monetary compensation and prizes for many different “challenges” is sure to bring in a plethora of ideas. These freelancers’ designs will be viewed along with those of the defense contractors to find the official amphibious vehicle of the US Marines. Even if a particular overall design is not chosen, specific components may be used as a component of the final product.
The military use of crowdsourcing underscores its viability as a solution to the problem of smaller budgets for research and development in large and small companies across the country. Product innovation is a never ending need and who better to suggest product improvements than the people who use them every day.