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Crowdfunding inside the enterprise

09.30.2013
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Whilst the crowdfunding market has boomed, with hundreds of platforms now offering the ability to fund and support a huge range of projects, it’s probably fair to say that the model has not made it’s way inside the enterprise.

Sure, you have outliers like the idea market at Rite Solutions that offers funding for the most popular ideas via an internal stock market type arrangement, but they are very much the exception rather than the rule.  This is certainly the case as far as big companies are concerned.

So it’s pretty exciting to learn that IBM are giving internal crowdfunding a trial.  The company is well known for its use of idea jams to solicit opinion from it’s 100,000+ employees on all sorts of issues, but now they’re trying something a wee bit different.

The project, which was first trialled back in 2012, probably bares more of a likeness to the participative budgeting projects that are in practice around the world, in that the company provide a number of potential uses for funding, and ask employees to make the decision for them.

Five hundred employees are given $100 to support projects from their peers.  They could of course propose their own ideas as well, but weren’t allowed to back themselves.  The initial trial saw a 46% participation rate.

Thus far the company has run three trials of this approach to project funding, with a fourth soon to get under way.

It’s certainly a nice approach to resourcing projects, and removes many of the personal biases that can often emerge when managers have their particular pet projects that they like to see supported.  This approach is much more democratic.

Suffice to say, with $100 per employee invested in this scheme, the size and scale of the projects are going to verge towards the small side of things rather than the large corporate wide projects that the company undertakes.  Will they eventually scale things up if these initial trials go well?  Time will tell, but any increase in employee involvement is surely a positive step, so for that they must be applauded.

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