Crowdsourcing is a hot industry buzzword but what does it actually mean? How can it help your business? So many things get called "crowdsourcing" these days, from users voting on content to customer service centers being routed to volunteers. As a result, the term "crowdsourcing" has become tricky to define.
I view crowdsourcing as harnessing the talent with which your business does not have a trusted relationship. These people might be your users or they might be strangers. They might be motivated by money, recognition or the desire to see your product improve. Across the many different crowdsourcing approaches, there are some common themes, both advantages and pitfalls.
Why are businesses relying on the crowd to do important jobs? A simple explanation is cost. In many cases, businesses use incentives other than money to get people to perform jobs that are prohibitively expensive otherwise. For example, Facebook used its users to translate the Website into many of the world's languages. It worked because its users really wanted to experience Facebook in their native language and they were excited about the opportunity to help make it happen.
Another common reason for using the crowd is speed or volume of work. Crowds can often scale up or down as needed, in ways that internal staff cannot. For example, the news aggregator Reddit controls spam by having its users quickly flag inappropriate articles 24/7.
A third key reason companies turn to the crowd is to access many different perspectives. Threadless makes consistently great T-shirts by letting anyone submit a design. Users vote on the best one and the T-shirt is then sold on their Website.
Aside from human perspectives, companies often need access to diverse operating systems and browsers. The Website uTest sources real people to test your Website on different computing platforms around the world.