You can never predict who might have a good idea. That’s why companies are starting to enlist employees to make innovations both big and small, even if it’s not part of their job description. The idea of crowdsourcing—outsourcing a task to a group of people outside the company—has taken hold in the last few years. Some companies also turn to customers, suppliers, and the public at-large for innovative ideas. What about capitalizing on the knowledge of workers inside the company to solve problems or generate ideas?

AT&T (T), for example, is moving innovation beyond the labs and into the hands of tens of thousands of employees. The telecom giant uses collective-intelligence software, a high-tech version of the suggestion box, to solicit ideas from workers. Aside from proposing ideas, employees can see suggestions from colleagues and even bet on the best ideas, using virtual currency in a prediction market. AT&T uses software from a company calledSpigit that makes it easy to see which ideas employees consider the most valuable and to help it choose which ideas to fund. Other companies use software or services from vendors such as Imaginatik, Crowdcast, and Lumenogic. Read on to see how 10 large companies are tapping the masses for innovation.

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