This article is the 2nd in a two-part series. Part 1 can be found here.
What is the next paradigm shift?
PCs changed what we work on.
Internet changed where we get our information.
The cloud changed how we work.
Crowdsourcing will change whom we work with.
Crowdsourcing, by definition, is the practice of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people, and especially from an online community, rather than from traditional employees or suppliers.
One would think that working with total strangers could never have become mainstream. However, similar to the other paradigm shifts, crowdsourcing is nothing new, and has been gaining momentum. Although the term was coined in 2005, we have seen forms of crowdsourcing for years. Many familiar names, from the Oxford English Dictionary to Madonna have been beneficiaries of crowdsourcing.
Some tasks are simply too large for one person or one company. In February 2007, when Jim Gray, renowned computer scientist, was lost at sea, thousands of satellite images were collected. It was impossible to review them all looking for a tiny capsized boat. The images were then posted to the Amazon Mechanical Turk, where an army of volunteers each looked at a few pictures in an attempt to find Jim’s boat. While the exercise was fruitless, it was a clear demonstration of the awesome power of the masses.
Whether it is a crowdsourcing competition like Madonna’s music video or a crowdfunding effort, funding a project by a large number of people each providing a small amount of funds, the major benefit is an inherent “vote” and support. Prior to these series of paradigm shifts, if one had an idea, they would have to present to a number of people to find the right investor who would believe in their vision. Not a small feat, as often visionaries are not great at presenting business cases, and investors are not great at seeing the vision, at least not without the vision being dwarfed by all the pitfalls.
With crowdfunding, you not only receive the funding, but also the vote of confidence and a built-in market. When Dan Shapiro wanted to build a board game for his four-year old twins, he turned to Kickstarter.com. With the goal of $25,000, he wanted to build a board game called Robot Turtles for 3-8 year old children, which in the process of playing would teach them the fundamentals of programming. Well, 13,765 people agreed with him that his idea is worth building and he has a whopping $631,230 in pledges.
As a small business owner, can you afford that giant marketing effort to see if an idea of yours is viable? Why pursue an expensive focus group, settling for a few people to validate your vision with the market? With crowdsourcing, you can get an army of volunteers willing to give you their wisdom, dollars, support, vote, or any combination thereof.
With a number of crowdsourcing variations, such as crowdvoting, crowdsearching and crowdfunding, we are just at the tip of the iceberg. Our lives are about to change – and do so for the better. History says so.
Siamak Farah is the CEO of InfoStreet (News - Alert). InfoStreet is a Cloud app provider that offers SkyDesktop, a free patent-pending Cloud Desktop; SkyAppMarket, an app marketplace where a business can choose from the best Cloud apps in the market; and SkySingleSignOn, a federated login solution and network management tool. Together they provide all the files and applications a company needs to run their business in the Cloud. Try SkyDesktop and SkyAppMarket by visiting https://www.skydesktop.com or by calling 1-866-956-5051 for more information.