I first heard about a variation of crowdsourcing several years ago, with the SETI@home project. You could sign up your computer, and when it was idle would help process radio satellite data in the search for extra-terrestrials. Small cost for the computer owner, big help for the project.
Currently known as cooperative-computing or distributed computing some examples include:
World Community Grid an example of how your idle computer can help solve world problems
Google Compute helping to solve scientific problems related to protein folding.
Innovative companies are learning that they can get ideas, solve problems and identify trends at a hugely reduced cost by allowing the public to contribute. Look who's crowdsourcing
So what's so great about this? Imagine your business can now incorporate talented individuals worldwide, and this will allow you to reduce the time spent on gathering information, processing it, or better yet, lower the cost of obtaining the information or sharing it.
So now the only question is, how to integrate crowdsourcing into your existing business, or what new business can you develop using crowdsourcing as inspiration?
The Rise of Crowdsourcing