Trends – Crowdsourcing

As leaders in developing and enhancing our company’s websites to support business goals, staying on top of the latest trends is important to delivering value and keeping a competitive edge. Crowdsourcing is one of those trends to keep an eye on, especially for smaller businesses.

A Concise Definition:

Crowdsourcing is the process of submitting your business challenge to the open market. Either whole, or in pieces.

Comparison to the Traditional RFP Process

The well known method of acquiring external resources to tackle a business challenge, is to define it, create a detailed Request for Proposal (RFP), conduct research on possible vendors, through some process reduce the selection list to a choice few, and then through an elimination process select one final vendor to build and deliver the solution.

In crowdsourcing, the problem is broadcast to the public in the form of an open call for solutions.  Anyone can then submit their solution.

So What’s the Advantage?

As I look at this, a number of key benefits immediately jump out:

1. Speed
2. Expanding the horizon
3. Innovation

1. Speed
Instead of spending the time trying to locate possible vendors, research their capabilities, arrange for meetings, reviews, proposals … immediately present the challenge to the open market.
2. Expanding the Horizon
In an open call, possible solutions can come from anywhere, way beyond your current base of known solution providers, broadening your horizons.
3. Innovation
Your own preconceived notions may limit the way you look at the problem and also possible solutions. An open call will bring in many ideas that you might not have considered.

Caveat Emptor “Let the buyer beware.”

With all things, there are good and bad sides.

For example, possible issues:

  1. Scam artists
  2. Attention to detail may not be as high as needed
  3. To few participants respond
  4. If the task is split among many providers, time to delivery will increase, integration costs will rise
  5. Financial incentive may not be high enough to attract top solutions
  6. There may be issues if a non-disclosure is needed (typically there is none)

Conclusion

As web development professionals, our training, experience and thinking will still be key in selection and developing the final solution for our companies.

But this is a very interesting use of web technologies to tackle problems and something to keep an eye on.

For Your Research

Some interesting sites that provide a greater, in-depth look at crowdsourcing:

  1. 1. Crowdsourcing.org
  2. 2. What is crowdsourcing? – CBS Money Watch
  3. 3. If you are looking for a contrarian position … you’ll like this Forbes article “The Myth of Crowdsourcing“. It’s a little dated, but useful none-the-less.
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