One of the consequences of the Internet becoming accessible to the most of the world’s population is the rise of crowdsourcing.
Crowdsourcing, the concept of tapping the wisdom or skills of large groups of people, changes the economics of many industries.
Getting Results From Crowds by Ross Dawson and Steve Bynghall look at how crowdsourcing works and the strategies for those who want to use crowdsourcing services and those providing them.
An important part of the book for those new to the concept to crowdsourcing are the comprehensive definitions of exactly what it is, the benefits, the ethics and situations where it may not work.
In examining the pitfalls, Dawson and Bynghall make Getting Results From Crowds a valuable guide that gives a realistic view for managers, business owners, entrepreneurs and activists to evaluate where crowdsourcing works best.
A refreshing point with the book is that it doesn’t fixate on price; much of what has been written about crowdsourcing has focused on “free” services where organisations call groups together to contribute their time.
While there have been some notable successes in this – Wikipedia and the Guardian newspaper’s corralling its readers to evaluate the UK Parliamentary expenses scandal are two – Ross and Steve point out in their Key Principles of outsourcing that cost should not be the driving factor;
The initial attraction to crowdsourcing for many businesspeople is the potential reduce costs. While this is a valid objective, minimizing fees paid rarely leads to optimal outcomes.
Where the guide does miss the mark is the sheer scope of what the authors try to cover and many of concepts discussed don’t sit under the crowdsourcing definition but are more akin to outsourcing, or as one of the new buzzwords calls it, cloudsourcing.
Many of the concepts discussed in the book are more about using crowds to tender for a project such as service marketplaces like O-Desk and Freelancer.
One of the problems with outsourcing is that many businesses and government organisations don’t have the skills required to specify, select and manage outsourced staff. Ross and Steve identify this and devote most of the book to the challenges of managed outsourced and crowsourced projects.
Getting Results from Crowds is an important book for those wanting harness the global workforce effectively for their organisation and business.
If you’re considering using crowdsourcing or outsourcing platforms, Getting Results From Crowds is a good starting place for understanding how to use these tools.