Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Analysis: Crowd sourcing revolution gathers pace

Could the growth of crowd sourcing be one of the major procurement trends of 2010? In recent years what started out as a niche sourcing area has gained greater credibility as some of the world's leading companies have embraced a sourcing route that, perhaps more than any other, links the world of procurement with the world of the consumer.

Earlier this month, the set-up of a new website aimed at "Democratising Fashion" was announced in New York. Fashion Stake, which will launch officially in September, could change the face of fashion procurement by offering consumers a forum to share ideas with designers and, ultimately, influence the clothes they produce.

"We think this can be a real game changer," said Daniel Gulati, the website's founder. "What we're basically doing is redirecting the margin to fans and cutting out the retailer altogether."

It's an innovative approach that Alec Karys, who is working in an advisory role with the company, believes could offer a pointer for what the future holds.

"You can crowd source, you can crowd fund, you can get economies of scale, and you can customize the output to deal with local markets," he said.

Fashion Stake's move is viewed as a dramatic innovation in the fashion industry, but elsewhere, crowd sourcing has already taken hold.

According to a recent report in Personnel Today, IBM is considering crowd-sourcing proposals that could see its permanent workforce slashed by up to 100,000 people by 2017, as the company looks to cut its head count by bringing in expertise on a project-by-project basis.

Tim Ringo, head of IBM Human Capital Management, the company's consultancy arm, said the approach would bring a number of significant advantages.

"There would be no building costs, no pensions and no healthcare costs, making huge savings," he said. "I think crowd sourcing is really important where you would have a core set of employees but the vast majority are sub-contracted out."

His comments were rebuffed by an IBM spokesman, who labelled them as "pure speculation", but there's little doubt that in the current economic climate, the attraction of crowd sourcing is stronger than ever.

Back in October 2009, Procurement Leaders magazine reported how Proctor & Gamble had utilised a crowd sourcing network to find a solution to commercialise a new molecule for auto-dish detergents. That solution - which made a significant difference to the company's bottom-line - came, not from within P&G's own sphere of knowledge, but from a previously unknown individual in India.

That is as dramatic example of you are likely to find of the impact that crowd sourcing can have, and the innovation that it can engender in procurement organisations across the world.

"Currently I think the impact (of crowd sourcing) is small - but over the longer-term I think the impact is going to be huge," says Fergus Dyer-Smith, founder of Crowd Sourcing networking website Wooshi.

"Take the simple process of procuring graphic design service for example. The traditional route involves phoning a number of suppliers finding the best quote and taking little leap of faith in terms of whether the supplier will deliver.

"Crowd sourcing offers you the opportunity to get quotes from scores of suppliers, base your choice on actual feedback and all from the benefit of your browser."

It also, he believes, offers a pointer as to the future role of the CPO.

"Now the CPOs role becomes one of experience in using services like crowdSpring or Elance," says Dyer-Smith. "It takes time to learn of all the services available, how to write good briefs and how to assess submissions. Once you do, however, the savings are huge."

Whether Fashion Stake takes off or whether IBM will cut its global head count remains to be seen, but whatever the outcome in those two cases one thing is clear - crowd sourcing is here to stay.
To Learn More Click Here
Bookmark and Share

No comments:

Post a Comment