Look who’s been Crowdsourcing

Taking Crowdsourcing to the next level : Level Extreme!


Walmart has recently revealed that it is considering a crowdsourced delivery system, in which it would get its in-store customers to deliver packages to its online customers, by providing them discount coupons if they agree to make a delivery that is on their way back home. Say what again?! You mean a stranger is gonna deliver stuff that I ordered online? What are the chances that I get it in one piece? Or what are the chances that I get the stuff at all?!

Although this idea is in the very early stages, I have to agree that it is very exciting, interesting and innovative. Kudos to Walmart. But no not for me. Thank you.

They say, the use of crowdsourcing, will help Walmart avoid shipping costs, improve delivery time and also make more happy (unsafe) customers.

Indian Traffic Police

India does not have the best reputation in terms of driving! This is no news!

To handle the (un)organized chaos (Indian traffic), many Indian cities like Pune, Chennai and Delhi, have turned to crowdsourcing to tackle traffic violations!

The use of crowdsourcing and social networking sites to police street traffic is slowly gaining popularity in India. Thousands of users have started submitting both photographs and video footage of traffic violations, to be acted upon by the police. So, the next person you see taking a video of you driving rashly, make sure you run over his phone too!

A constable traffic policeman directing taxis Calcutta Kolkata I

“No matter who you are, most of the smartest people work for someone else.” – Bill Joy, Cofounder Sun Microsystems


Can somebody help us? Anybody? Unilever, despite having world class facilities and a respected and a reputed research staff. It seeks external contributions from outside the firm through an open crowdsourced Innovation project (http://www.unilever.com/innovation/collaborating-with-unilever/open-innovation/ ).


Nokia’s Ideasproject (https://ideasproject.com/home ) is a great example of crowdsourcing, as it draws on the consumer experiences of participant-innovators to generate new ideas about the kind of products they seek from Nokia. Crowdsourcing participants are enabled, becoming their own agents of product-design. Nokia promises to share the revenue generated from the crowdsourced ideas with the participants.

Yes, Nokia is trying to listen! It’s too late, Nokia! 

Is that even a word? Shouldn’t there be a hyphen?

By now, you would have got a gist of what crowdsourcing is all about. If not,very quickly, ‘Crowdsourcing’ is a job that is usually outsourced to an undefined, large group of people in the form of an open call.


Isn’t Crowdsourcing, Outsourcing?

This is usually a debate. I believe that Crowdsourcing is a type of outsourcing, as when doing so one has to follow the same Questionnaire, to help decide whether or not to crowdsource, such as –

Does it involve a core competency?

Does it involve confidential or sensitive IS services or software development?

If the answer to the above such questions are “No”, then it is safe to crowdsource/outsource. More crudely, crowdsourcing could be described as projects that are outsourced to the ‘crowd’.

There are several online outsourcing/crowdsourcing websites like elance.comfreelancer.comodesk.com, Innocentive, Cambrian House, iStockPhoto, Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, Threadless, Rent a coder, crowdflower etc that have millions of users. Some believe, with websites like these it can lead to “digital sweatshops”, where workers put in long hours to generate very little pay and no benefits.

A Chinese website, Zhubajie claims to currently have 7.6 million workers, if this is true, it would mean that Zhubajie, is the largest online crowdsourcing site in the world. How many of them are underage?

From a business perspective, crowdsourcing is a popular way to get work done with minimal costs. A poetry magazine that I remember sending my submissions to for a long time, in the hope of getting published was a Canadian online poetry magazine called, Mattia. This is a crowdsourced online poetry magazine, that publishes, and maintains a regular doze of online magazines, without having a crew of writers/authors/poets. Instead crowdsources it to the public by organizing an open International Poetry Competition every season, gaining not only submissions from all over the world, but also readers and viewership. The top 25 submissions were published, and the best three are given prizes (CAD $100 for first place). Similarly, an Indian website/blog called ‘The Underground Writers’ collects submissions of articles from all over via weekly submissions and prints the best. Thus, creating content for their business, while also gaining viewership, with minimal expense.

Crowdsourcing, as a marketing strategy

Crowdsourcing, according to Laurence Wolf, cofounder and chief executive officer of Brand Honee, a crowdsourcing platform, in Australia, is “just another tool in the box of brand marketing.

We have seen examples of crowdsourcing on the television, restaurants and in the media where crowdsourced advertising has been used. Crowdsourcing has become easier, with the advent of social media, as it is easier to spread the word, and find people who are ready to work

Many companies like Coca-Cola, Intel, Emirates NBD Bank, Walmart, General Mills, Anheuser-Busch (AB) etc have been using crowdsourcing to their advantage, while also engaging their customers.


Crowdsourcing – Good or Bad?

The Downside..

1.     To find good content in crowdsourced submissions, someone must first sift through piles of submissions, and there is no guarantee the search will be successful.

2.     No guarantee of the quality of work, as there is a lack of face-to-face communication. Companies do not get a chance to work closely with the team building the project.

3.     Talent is only paid for chosen ideas. This means that dozens, perhaps hundreds, of people are working for free in the hope of having their idea chosen. This devalues talent enormously.

4.     There is no reliable way to verify the age of the people employed, when a job is crowdsourced, as some may be ‘working’ underage.

5.     No accountability. With no contracts and low (or no) wages, one will always be on the lookout for a bigger, better deal.

The Good Stuff..

1.     Work can be done for less than the cost of hiring a full-fledged team of professionals.

2.     The talent pool is huge.

3.     You have access to international talent.

4.     Great collaboration across multiple disciplines, languages and age ranges.

5.      Helps you understand your audience and marketplace.

6.      Crowdsourcing is a very effective way of getting work done with minimal expense.

Lisa Arthur, chief marketing officer of marketing automation firm Aprimo says, “Crowdsourcing, is an effective approach for getting people to help you shape something that’s an idea into a tangible asset, whether that’s a piece of content, white paper, video, all the way into strategy, depending on what your need is and what the idea is.”

Umm… What did Lisa say again? More simply,

“…the world is becoming too fast, too complex and too networked for any company to have all the answers inside.” – Yochai Benkler, Yale University.

So if you don’t know what you’re doing, make use of the wisdom of the crowd!


Sources, Related articles and Image sources –

Police man image – https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/4b/India_-_Kolkata_traffic_cop_-_3661.jpg

“Walmart to get CUSTOMERS to make deliveries in radical new ‘crowd-sourcing’ approach to shipping” – http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2300599/Walmart-CUSTOMERS-make-deliveries-radical-new-crowd-sourcing-approach-shipping.html “India turns to Crowdsourcing for tackling Traffic Violations” – http://dailycrowdsource.com/20-resources/projects/910-india-turns-to-crowdsourcing-for-tackling-traffic-violations 
“About Walmart’s Idea to Crowdsource Its Same-Day Delivery Service” – http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikamorphy/2013/03/28/about-walmarts-idea-to-crowdsource-its-same-day-delivery-service/ “The Pros and Cons of Crowdsourcing” – http://www.destinationcrm.com/Articles/ReadArticle.aspx?ArticleID=87290&PageNum=3
“The Ups and Downs of Crowdsourcing” – http://advertising.about.com/od/insidetheindustry/a/The-Ups-And-Downs-Of-Crowdsourcing.htm
“Crowd-sourced adventure: The couple on a cross-country road trip letting readers of their travel blog decide where they go next ” –http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2309979/Crowd-sourced-adventure-The-couple-cross-country-road-trip-letting-readers-travel-blog-decide-next.html “Crowdsourcing is booming in Asia” – http://techcrunch.com/2012/12/08/asias-secret-crowdsourcing-boom/ 
Crowdsourcing Idea image – http://www.businessesgrow.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/crowdsourcing-2.jpg “5 examples of companies innovating with crowdsourcing” – http://www.innocentive.com/blog/2013/10/18/5-examples-of-companies-innovating-with-crowdsourcing/ “Innovation Zen” – http://innovationzen.com/blog/2006/08/01/top-10-crowdsourcing-companies/ Websites-  www.freelancer.com www.elance.com www.zhubajie.com www.odesk.com www.mattia.ca “Crowdsourcing: Pros, Cons, And More” – http://www.hongkiat.com/blog/what-is-crowdsourcing/ Crowdsourcing Image 2 – http://blog.gremln.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/crowdsourcing2.png http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/wealth_of_networks/Main_Page“Managing and Using Information Systems – A Strategic Approach” by Keri E. Pearlson, Carol S. Saunders; “Chaordix – Crowd Intelligence” – http://www.chaordix.com/crowdsourcing-101/


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s