Enterprise Crowdsourcing, an offspring of the idea of outsourcing, is fast becoming the next big idea that everybody wants a piece of. Crowdsourcing is not a new idea, with Wikipedia and other major businesses relying heavily on the idea for a while now.
Uses of Enterprise Crowdsourcing
The following three ways are examples of the uses of crowdsourcing.
- Technology testing – With companies developing new apps and technologies every day, testing them and making sure that they are ready for consumers is time consuming. This model offers an alternative for the testing while ensuring shorter release cycles with better products.
Evernote, the revolution in note-taking, relies on crowdsourcing to test its apps and understand how the technology performs in real-world scenario. Instead of spending valuable resources in testing the app, Evernote relies on UserTesting.com to survey the usability amidst consumers. The testing cycle is then shortened and requires no planning on the part of Evernote.
- Mystery shopping – Testing on a large scale, i.e., world-wide, requires tremendous effort and resources. Nokia bypasses the effort through crowdsourcing. Nokia relies on Lionbridge technologies for international testing.
Within three days of a new product launch, Lionbridge can have people in the stores testing out the entertainment features. Owing to the lightning speed of testing, Nokia was able to bypass a major issue in the Russian market. The testers in Russia could not use credit cards for the phone’s music-store app. The results analyzed by Nokia showed a problem in decoding the Russian script. Before the problem caused the sales to drop, Nokia was able to fix the issue thanks to the magic of crowdsourcing.
- International legal issues – Intellectual property law varies in every country around the world. Companies are often required to be up to date with the changes in these laws. Deploying adequate resources to monitor the changes in laws in countries across the world will take a chunk of time and other resources. Companies like Lionbridge are hired to do the monitoring.
Lionbridge hired CPAs in various countries across the world to monitor changes to the Intellectual property law. Following the accrued data, a group of analysts explained the changes required for the law to company developers.
Understanding the Functioning of Enterprise Crowdsourcing
Crowdsourcing is a magical tool. It makes work a whole lot easier. This does not mean erasing work, it is transferring work. Understanding how the transfer works, the pitfalls and the triumphs is crucial to making the model work. The following is a road map of sorts to understanding the functioning of this model better.
- Management – Although enterprise crowdsourcing sound like washing your hands off a whole lot of work, there will always be a guiding involvement from the company. Budgets need to be allocated, not just for testing, but also for analyzing and imbibing the results. With the minefield of testing, the series of questions that you come up with may confuse consumers or may not be feasible for the area of testing. There will be a back and forth just to come up with the right set of questions. The time line, similarly will face setbacks as people are bound to make mistakes, analyzing, correcting and recreating the test takes a toll on the timeline. Crowdsourcing therefore, is a lot like taking up the role of production manager.
- A job well done – When testing is done by the company, chances are that the consumers who take the survey are short on time, uninterested or simply bored. They may not answer questions completely or answer them at all. In complete contrast, agencies get tests complete and provide comprehensive answers, completing the test as it was meant to be. This is because the workers are conscientious and are often interested in retaining their jobs.
- Providing history – The only major pitfall with the model seems to be the fact that the agency that receives the work does not have an inkling of the history of the project. Each time, there will be a whole lot of explanation and a series of meetings to understand the project. There are some tasks that do not require a detailed understanding of the background, such tasks are better suited to crowdsourcing. Tasks that have small parts that fit into a whole are not suitable, as they require an in-depth understanding of the working of the entire project.
- Crowdsourcing is not reassured quality – Often companies think that once work is sourced quality control measures need not be applied again. It does not mean that the company will still have to spend time and resources in re-checking the project. Using intermediary agencies that ensure quality is the means to a worthy project. Crowdsourcing as stated earlier is not work that vanishes, it is work that gets distributed and work that has to be managed.
- The fine points – when sending projects or work, the company should make sure that the task is explained in simple, easy to understand, plain English sentences. In case of things not going according to plan, the company should supply alternate routes.
Enterprise Crowdsourcing is a great tool that can get tomorrow’s work done, efficiently today. It hands companies access that is well beyond the reach of its limited resources. Despite the magnificent success of this business model there are a few pitfalls as listed above. If a company does not wish to use an external agency, then the work will have to be bite-sized or interesting and there will have to be incentives or rewards to motivate employees to work faster and harder.