By Tara Lane, Staff Writer
The phrase “following the crowd” has always had a negative connotation. Nobody wants to think of themselves as a lemming or, that their efforts are an inconsequential “drop in the bucket.” With the advent of the internet, though, crowdsourcing has changed the way we look at the “crowd.” Though still in its infancy, crowdsourcing has taken the online world by storm. Through the power of the crowd, people from across the world have come together — virtually — and have contributed to the building and development of products and services for almost every industry imaginable. Entrepreneurs have embraced crowdsourcing, finding a whole new platform on which to create and grow a business.
Groupon – Groupon’s “Collective Buying Power” relies upon its crowd to make sure everyone else gets something in return, through the participation of a brave few who are willing to put some money on the line without any return. Currently spanning 45 major cities, Groupon produces one deal per day, per city. The catch? Enough people have to participate blindly (that is, buying in with the chance of not actually getting the deal) before “the deal is on.” Now that it’s reached a such wide audience, the deal are almost always “on” before the sun rises. Groupon’s founders help to connect customers with businesses looking to give a good deal, and customers are able to participate in a group like they never have done before.
Kiva – Following the example of the Grameen Bank, Kiva is an online leader in crowdsourced microfinance ventures. The organization connects entrepreneurs in developing countries with people who are willing – and looking – to share with and help others. By donating money, users essentially give their vote and confidence to the entrepreneurs that their business will succeed. Lenders remain a part of a solid support system to encourage these entrepreneurs along in the dreams. Though similar microfinancing organizations do exist, Kiva is the first of its kind to rely on the everyday person instead of angel investors – a breakthrough for the industry, and one that continues to have an impact around the world– to show anyone can help make a difference.
blur Group — blur Group takes crowdsourcing to a whole new level — creating powerful crowds consisting of experts and specialists in select fields to produce the best results possible. Essentially, crowds and client projects are curated by the company itself. This subset of crowdsourcing, called select sourcing, gathers together the very best of the best to streamline the process and produce valuable results. blur Group has passionate crowds of entrepreneurs, artists, marketers, designers, writers and geeks.
- Kiva raised more than $100 million in its first four years of operation
- Blur group has over 2,000 members in its marketers crowd
- The discount crowd, Groupon, boasts over 500,000 members
Wider implications also show a more collaborative, team based model which has hiring and work culture/valued skills/educations implications. With hundreds of tools at our disposal, and millions of minds ready to help, ideas can become a reality, and no idea is too far-fetched to be successful. Crowds are designing cars, writing operas, and ultimately supporting the success of one another – without ever meeting them, or even hearing their voice. Crowdsourcing helps others gain perspective, from those we don’t know, and also from those we do. Businesses can bring crowdsourcing efforts to a local level, reaching out within their own social networks to industry professionals who may be share unique, valuable perspectives and solutions to challenges they may be facing.
With the growing trend and use of open-source software, crowdsourcing is becoming even easier. Open-source provides a platform for everyone to contribute and improve upon others’ ideas, to create the best products possible. Due to this, we’re expecting higher and higher quality products each time – and we’re rarely disappointed with the results.
- Online productivity will be ruled by crowdsourcing efforts. From designing a web page to writing a book or making music, more and more people will become part of the crowd; because of this, the opinion of the masses will be taken much more seriously than that of a few experts. The internet is not top down, but side-to-side. It’s producer and sender interact and exchange ideas and knowledge.
- Beyond tools like Yahoo! Answers and community forums, there will be an entire search engine provided by and for the crowd. It will pull information from every social network, creating a “social search engine,” a unique form of crowdsourcing. Anyone who is online will be able to participate in real-time searches and more.
- Select sourcing will dominate crowdsourcing efforts, creating transparency by establishing a competitive pricing model, while providing value and perspective that can’t be attained at even the largest agencies.
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