Internal Crowdfunding and Open Innovation at IBM

In order to spark innovation, creativity is key.  Whether it be for a small startup or a 3-Innovation-Growth (200x133)Fortune 500 company the fact remains that in order to grow, novel development must occur.  Crowdfunding helps push for the production of new technology as it offers funds and the incentive to create it.  International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) is one major company that has turned to crowdfunding to help make the technology of tomorrow.  One major difference with the IBM crowdfunding though is that it is internally based, only employees of IBM are involved with the crowdfunding process.

IBM began its first crowdfunding initiative in the spring of 2012.  The set-up for this campaign was that 500 IBM employees were given $100 and told to create a project related to improving life at IBM.  The employees were told that they could not sponsor their own project but only those of their coworkers. The ideas generated ranged from improving the cafeteria quality to purchasing 3-D printer for one of the office departments.  The participation rate for this campaign was surprisingly high at 46 percent meaning that this program interested many people at IBM who wanted to see change.

Over time, internal crowdfunding took on a new role in IBM as it moved away from fixing common problems and focusing on advancing technology.  These projects have required anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000 and used the all or nothing approach to funding.  This meant a project must have met 100 percent of its goal before it could be implemented.  This part of the program has been very effective, as 10 innovative projects have been fully funded and have moved into development.  By trying to connect with the wants of the workers, IBM has opened the door to advancements in technology.

IBM’s program has seen great success so far and is an example of the power of crowdfunding to all kinds of business.  This program has not only boosted open innovation within IBM but also morale in the office.  At Launcht, we congratulate the success of IBM and how it has used crowdfunding to meet its needs as a large enterprise.  To learn more about our white-label crowdfunding software, please click here.

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