Crowdsourcing is the practice of engaging a ‘crowd’ or group for a common goal — often innovation, problem solving, or efficiency. It is powered by new technologies, social media and web 2.0. Crowdsourcing can take place on many different levels and across various industries. Thanks to our growing connectivity, it is now easier than ever for individuals to collectively contribute — whether with ideas, time, expertise, or funds — to a project or cause. This collective mobilization is crowdsourcing.
It is a process of tapping in to individuals or groups of people, paid or unpaid who are linked together with a common interest to bring forward powerful, increased results through their aggregated actions or activities. “Source” derives from the Latin word “surgere,” to rise or lift.
This phenomenon can provide organizations with access to new ideas and solutions, deeper consumer engagement, opportunities for co-creation, optimization of tasks, and reduced costs. The Internet and social media have brought organizations closer to their stakeholders, laying the groundwork for new ways of collaborating and creating value together like never before. The approach is being embraced:
“Crowds are a hit. Millions of people, connected by the Internet, are contributing ideas and information to projects big and small. Crowdsourcing, as it is called, is helping to solve tricky problems and providing localized information. And with the right knowledge, contributing to the crowd — and using its wisdom — is easier than ever.” The New York Times
The future is human-centric, all about participation and the ability to co-create via an increasingly connected world. This new way of doing things – crowdsourcing, crowdfunding, co-creation, collaboration, and open innovation – is challenging business models and workings of organizations across the board, offering an immense opportunity to rethink and reinvent conventional processes.
Crowdsourcing touches across all social and business interactions. It is changing the way we work, hire, research, make and market. Governments are applying crowdsourcing to empower citizens and give a greater voice to the people. In science and health care, crowdsourcing can democratize problem solving and accelerate innovation. With education, it has the potential to revolutionize the system, just as crowdfunding is currently challenging traditional banking and investing processes. It’s a 21st-century mindset and approach that can be applied in many areas and many ways to:
What can be crowdsourced? The short answer is, a collaborative or crowd-centric approach can be applied to everything. But here are just a few areas where it has had significant impact and huge potential:
So how can this phenomenon work for organizations? Crowdsourcing as a work model, financial model, and business model are here to stay. Leveraging collaborative practices and tools leads to disruptive business implications and transformative innovations. If existing enterprise are not prepared to adapt and embrace this new opportunity, they will be disrupted. Knowledge and understanding of collaborative business practices will be a required skill for C-level suite executives and entrepreneurs.