In the past, when companies had big projects to finish but lacked the resources to hire enough people to do them, they might have called on a temp agency. But why pay even part-time wages when the resources of the entire universe of Internet users is at your disposal?
With crowdsourcing, companies can get various tasks, ranging from the mundane to the highly technical, completed quickly, anonymously, remotely, and inexpensively. Several firms in turn have created a whole new market, selling their help in coordinating the process, such as Amazon’s Mechanical Turk and CrowdFlower.
People who join such crowdsourcing sites can make a little extra income on the side by completing tasks that fit their skill set, whether that involves tagging a Twitter post or editing a marketing communication. They can work as much or as little as they want, during whatever hours they choose, from their own computers.
In response, even massive companies such as AOL have turned to crowdsourcing. For example, AOL needed an inventory of all of the videos it had published on thousands of its web pages—a job that likely would have taken a small team of employees years to complete.
Instead, AOL crowdsourced the project by splitting up the overall task into multiple micro-projects, each of which was posted on Mechanical Turk. Just a couple of months after the projects were posted, AOL had a full, accurate, and complete inventory. It avoided the costs of hiring a team of new employees, as well as any costs associated with developing the software they likely would have demanded to help them inventory the vast amounts of data. Instead, the total costs of the project were about the same as the expense of hiring two temp workers.
- What are the benefits of crowdsourcing for companies?
- What are some possible effects of the growing market for crowdsourcing?
Source: Rachel Emma Silverman, “Big Firms Try Crowdsourcing,” The Wall Street Journal, January 17, 2012.
Vickrum N. said:
Crowd sourcing provides great benefits for companies that can leverage the talents of the general public effectively. The world is becoming more flat in today’s day and age – meaning more people are exposed to more information (of all kinds) then ever before. The volume of useful information that is available and communicated over the internet is nearing an infinite amount, BUT this doesn’t mean that individuals will automatically contribute to your business or project. There must be at least some type of incentive (or perceived incentive) for the public. Now, economically and socially – how the companies introduce these incentives to the public determines the success of the crowd sourcing campaign. Companies should strive to make the public contribute to the crowd sourcing platform in order to “give back” to the community, and see some type of personal fulfillment come through after the completion of the project. I think if companies follow up with the crowd after the project is completed, crowd sourcing will have a long growth road ahead.