Crowdsourcing: Workforce in the Cloud

On-demand workers have been around for over a decade but not many are aware to use this potential workforce fully. The concept of Crowdsourcing has recently gained momentum and its evolution has been traced for this decade.

It started with Wikipedia that began the revolution and the term Crowdsourcing was coined by Jeff Howe. Guru and Elance made sophisticated electronic marketplaces from this concept and Amazon designed computing platform named Mechanical Turk. Kermit Pattison has been writing extensively about it, John Winsor’s company using creative ways to work with it and over 50 companies providing services to bring it in everyday use for the business person.

Free Crowdsourcing has been the main attraction where free work is accomplished if it’s entertaining, emotionally fulfilling or leads to recognition. Most managers do not use these on-demand workers when it is about paying them to get the desired result. This paid Crowdsourcing would have to learn from E-Commerce that now has a sophisticated shopping mechanism. Now we don’t send anyone to buy a book for us, instead we go to the website and order with our credit card and it is delivered in a few days.

The main reasons for this trust in this shopping mechanism are:

  1. Huge on-demand selection with reviews and details available
  2. Saves Time and effort, no logistics
  3. Results are satisfactory
  4. Best price since we can shop from where we bear the lowest cost
  5. Confidence on the safety of our information

Crowdsourcing would also have to meet similar criteria to become mainstream like E-Commerce. The main hurdles to clear would be:

  1. Crowd responsiveness – getting work done quickly irrespective of its nature
  2. Ease of use and no wastage of time in instructing how to do the work
  3. Result satisfaction
  4. Low cost
  5. Security and privacy
  6. Resistance to inefficient markets

Some companies have become mainstream business utilities such as CastingWords, Elance, Smartsheet and 99Desings. They have different work nature but the concept is the same, Crowdsourcing. The Smartsheet team has made a detailed report about paid Crowdsourcing and a webinar was arranged with well known people on 17th November to discuss it. The panel included Jeff Howe from Wired Magazine, John Winsor the Executive Director at Crispin, Porter and Bogusky, Lukas Biewald the founder of CrowdFlower, Eckart Walther the GM of LiveWork, SVP and LiveOps and Brent Frei the founder and chairman of Smartsheet. The moderator for the event was Marshall Kirkpatrick. The report had original research on paid Crowdsourcing including

  • Six hurdles to paid Crowdsourcing
  • Five predictions including revenue exceeding $ 1 Billion in five years
  • Sweet spot attributes along with factors
  • 50 vendors with rankings
  • Facts and figures about prices and payments

Smarsheet has been the source of completing tasks at affordable rates through capable on-demand workforce. The services offered by them are used by thousands of companies for several of their office operations.