Thursday, October 1, 2009

Crowdsourcing: Tap the crowd or join it for fun and profit

You don’t need to spend millions to benefit from crowdsourcing. Major companies have gained attention for "crowdsourcing" everything from a Super Bowl ad (Doritos) to improvements in movie recommendations (Netflix). Why pay an ad agency or employees, the thinking goes, if you can offer a prize and capitalize on the ambitions of amateurs and experts from around the world? But crowdsourcing doesn’t require millions of dollars, as a number of online companies are making it easier than ever for individuals, nonprofit groups and small businesses to participate in the crowdsourcing trend. "Hobbyists, part-timers, and dabblers suddenly have a market for their efforts, as smart companies in industries as disparate as pharmaceuticals and television discover ways to tap the latent talent of the crowd," Jeff Howe wrote in "The Rise of Crowdsourcing," the Wired Magazine article that coined the term. "The labor isn’t always free, but it costs a lot less than paying traditional employees. It’s not outsourcing; it’s crowdsourcing." With crowdsourcing, you don’t hire an individual or a company when you need to provide customer-support answers or design a new corporate logo. Instead, you provide incentives — sometimes monetary, sometimes not — for people around the world to work on your project.
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