Crowdsourcing offers a new and wider path to innovation

If two heads are better than one, are 45,000 heads spectacular? That's the promise of crowdsourcing. Companies can find new ideas faster and sometimes at a lower cost than internal innovation.

[Related: Crowdsourcing Offers a Tightly Focused Alternative to Outsourcing]

But putting business problems out for public brainwork could expose sensitive information and strategic plans. And contest-winning ideas, developed in isolated laboratory conditions with squeaky-clean data, can't always be translated to the unpredictable real world, says Anand Rao, a principal at PricewaterhouseCoopers.

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