This week Unilever will host its Sustainable Living Lab, a 24-hour, global online event aiming to harvest fresh insights across four strategic areas of focus, including sustainable sourcing, production and distribution and consumer behaviour change. The event follows the launch in March of a permanent platform dedicated to Open Innovation. The idea is to extend and deepen interactions with external collaborators on a series of "wants" – 10 key priorities set by its sustainable living plan.
The latest application of crowdsourcing by the likes of Unilever and Heineken also differs from some of the early adopters in one other key respect. The new digital platforms are not self-contained online initiatives driven by corporate social responsibility, but extensions of existing business functions driven by a competitive, commercial strategy to do well by doing good. It's interesting to note in this context that while Unilever's sourcing process is public, submissions are private.