Crowdsourcing provides companies with access to widespread knowledge pools and constitutes a well-established inbound open innovation practice. More recently, some companies have introduced the approach of open innovation within their company boundaries. Using internal crowdsourcing (IC), companies can apply open innovation principles to overcome information silos. Multinational corporations often have thousands of employees around the globe, embedded in divisions and virtually separated from each other. Although a large proportion of companies nowadays use social IT to mitigate problems of distance, only a few companies can access their employees’ wisdom effectively—let alone efficiently. With almost 100,000 employees worldwide, SAP possesses significant resources, which IC can help to unlock and develop. In this business case study, we report the findings of our investigation of five IC implementations at SAP. Based on interviews and secondary data, we analyze the process and related governance tasks of the different IC approaches. The applications for IC range from the search for new and sustainable business models to an approach that uses crowdsourcing for the competence development of SAP’s employees. Our paper contributes to our understanding of open innovation and crowdsourcing by conceptualizing IC as a form of internal open innovation. Further, from our observations, we derive six lessons learned to support managers in implementing and executing IC initiatives successfully. Our findings will subsequently help managers to increase the innovation capabilities of their companies, create more sustainable business models, further the entrepreneurial mindset of their employees and thus provide a competitive advantage.
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