The concept of crowdsourcing has evolved so much in such a short time that it is hard to believe that it has come into focus just a few years ago. For the common man, breathing, living & interacting in physical as well as virtual worlds, crowdsourcing would not be so obvious. However, the common man (yes that same Aam Aadmi of today) stands to gain crowdsourcing benefits that may turn his digital & physical world upside down. What is this crowdsourcing you ask? Let us share our insights with you.
No, crowdsourcing is not a marketing gimmick & it is certainly not a jaw-dropping innovation (well, the term crowdsourcing may be innovative). Actually, subtle crowdsourcing has been going on for decades through surveys, feedbacks & suggestion boxes. Remember, that large area reserved on each survey form, with the heading ‘Your Suggestions’; or that Suggestion Box present in lobbies, waiting areas reminding you of your own mailbox? That, my dear reader, is crowdsourcing. It was just never used as openly as today. Ad-hoc crowdsourcing is becoming the new mantra of today & it has the power to take at least some shine off of those marketing experts, designers & business analysts.
Mashable.com has defined the concept of crowdsourcing as distributed problem solving (http://mashable.com/category/crowdsourcing/). Basic premise is to get a large group of people to work on a specific problem. Sounds familiar, Indians? Let me ask you a question, what is the democracy? Isn’t it a variation of crowdsourcing? I believe democracy is only 20% crowdsourcing. In democracy, leaders elected by public define the problem & attempt to find a solution or it. In the purest form of crowdsoucing, a problem is defined by crowd & solutions are also driven by crowd’s contributions. This approach of crowdsourcing brings tremendous power with itself. For services, it could be great tool to improve processes, pin-point pain areas & redesign processes. However, crowdsourcing really proves a game changer when it comes to product development, irrespective of whether it’s a purely software product or an embedded product. When it comes to identifying the needs & designing innovative solutions for cater to those needs, what is better than soliciting the very crowd for which the product is being developed?
It is to be noted that crowdsourcing is not always about deciding features of product or getting artistics designs from the crowd, it has many more aspects.
There are many types of crowdsourcing, as discussed by dailycrowdsource.com,(http://dailycrowdsource.com/training/crowdsourcing/what-is-crowdsourcing), viz., Crowdsource Design, Crowdfunding, Microtasks, Open Innovations, Pros & Cons. In Crowdsource Design type of crowdsourcing, you source your designs from the crowd. The designs may be for logo, furniture, user interface, fashion items etc. In Crowdfunding, you can ask public for donations to meet your funding needs. Microtasks is a method in which you can divide your project in small tasks & then source each task from a crowd of people. If you do not have a clear idea about what to crowdsource, you can opt for open innovations, in which you can solicit ideas for all aspects of business. Through Pros & Cons method, you can have a handle on market reaction of your product as crowd lists pros & cons of your product for you.
Now let us see some examples of crowdsourcing. If we were to create a comprehensive list, it would take at least a few days & still we won’t be able to give it justice. Let us wrap up our discussion by noting a few examples. Anheuser-Busch (AB) has used crowdsourcing to fine-tune the tastes of its famous brand Budweiser. Another popular example would be Ideasproject initiative from Nokia, which draws on consumer-experiences of participant-innovators to generate new ideas about the kind of products they seek from Nokia. Nokia shares revenues generated from crowdsourced ideas with Ideasproject participants. The biggest example of crowdsourcing that I can quote is Wikipedia, which practically runs its site by using the crowd’s knowledge, providing a massive tribute to crowdsourcing.
Most industry experts believe that crowdsourcing is here to stay. They say that companies will rely on crowdsourcing more & more to fine-tune their products to actual market demands. The power of crowd to innovate & to provide efficient solutions to various business problems is tremendous & with continuous advancements in communication technology, it would be surprising if we don’t see a significant growth in crowdsourcing within a few years.