Crowdsourcing Goes Mainstream

Comments Off on Crowdsourcing Goes Mainstream
Crowdsourcing Goes Mainstream

Crowdsourcing relies upon a large group of people to generate services, solutions, or content. While instances of crowdsourcing have always existed, it's the advent of online communities that has truly unleashed its potential.

Crowdsourcing takes many forms — and many proverbs have been used to describe it:

  • One example is, "Many hands make light work." This is the phenomenon so commonly exploited by the open source community to come up with innovative software solutions or to raise funding for high-risk projects that can't attract conventional venture capital.
  • A second concept is characterized by, "None of us is as smart as all of us." This concept was probably most effectively encapsulated by James Surowiecki is his bestseller, The Wisdom of Crowds.1 Time and time again, it's been found that a group of average people can collectively come up with a solution that is even better than the solution identified by the best experts.
  • A third revelation is embedded in the idea, "The market is always right." Competitive markets for problem solving have been repeatedly shown to produce superior results to simply hiring a single, well-known expert.

Much of the power of crowdsourcing comes from its ability to go beyond the walls of the organization to tap into a wider resource. But, unlike traditional outsourcing, where a task or problem is assigned to a specific, named group, crowdsourcing solicits contributions from an undefined group made up of distinct and varied individuals.2 They are generally creative, curious, and competitive — characteristics that bring people together from different regions, different disciplines, and entirely different economic sectors.

As a result, problems that are bigger than one person, department, or institution can be solved. It gives people who think they can provide the answers to another business's challenges the chance to prove their ability.

Genuine crowdsourcing methods are also proving to be more effective at solving problems than crowd-like internal methods. These internal approaches, called jams, idea marketplaces, and personal entrepreneurial projects, have their place, but the results they deliver are nowhere near the scale possible with external crowds.

The relatively new methods using external crowds for attacking problems are being leveraged in a broad range of industries and applications, including genomics, engineering, operations research, predictive analytics, enterprise software development, video games, mobile apps, and marketing. In addition, well-known, high-performance institutions are increasingly employing crowdsourcing...

To continue reading, become a paid subscriber for full access.
Already a Trends Magazine subscriber? Login for full access now.

Subscribe for as low as $195/year

  • Get 12 months of Trends that will impact your business and your life
  • Gain access to the entire Trends Research Library
  • Optional Trends monthly CDs in addition to your On-Line access
  • Receive our exclusive "Trends Investor Forecast 2015" as a free online gift
  • If you do not like what you see, you can cancel anytime and receive a 100% full refund