October 27th, 2014
Crowdsourcing is reinventing community collaboration and fostering innovation. It allows businesses to source ideas, solutions and contributions from outside traditional organizational boundaries and expand their workforce to include non-employees. It is bridging the gap between organizations and voluntary participants willing to contribute to new solutions and innovations.
Crowdsourcing is not an entirely new concept, certainly not in the software industry. The most apparent example on the web is Wikipedia, which provides a common ground for information-sharing. Another prominent example is the open source development model, which offers a universal platform for development, distribution and enhancements of new software through publicly-sourced ideas. In recent years, crowdsourcing has predominantly moved to the internet, as it provides an ideal ground for information sharing, especially when collaborating on web-based projects. Still, many start-ups and charities that rely on fund-raising use crowdsourcing techniques offline by obtaining labor and ideas from volunteers or part-time workers.
Within many organizations, crowdsourcing is also assuming much larger patterns of mass collaboration, while at the same time those organizations employ more focused and concentrated methods. They often find more innovative contributions outside their business from community members who volunteer under both paid and unpaid agreements. On the other hand, many large enterprises are using internally crowdsourced ideas to formulate their engineering and marketing strategies in particular. It not only motivates employees, but also helps businesses gather key insights from the grassroots level within the organization.
The benefits of crowd-sourcing to today’s marketplace are numerous. As crowdsourcing techniques grow more focused and specific, businesses can curtail and often entirely replace overhead costs through externally generated ideas and solutions. Not only that, marketers can produce much more effective campaigns by creating tailored solutions that originate from actual end-user contributions and are validated through consistent feedback—a win-win solution for both businesses and their customers.