Millions of online workers are waiting each day for the thousands of companies that request their special services. If you're a regular crowdsourcer, you've likely come up the learning curve and are adept at successfully conducting significant amounts of work online with relative ease. If you are not a regular, but occasionally need the benefits, you often have as good a chance of frustration as you do of success. This is where the ‘crowdsourcing consultant’ comes in.
A creative, process and human factors expert that excels at breaking work into clearly understood instruction sets and objectives to achieve a specific result. Must be good with data, excellent with the concise written word, and tireless at refining for quality.
There are many great crowdsourcing tools that help you get an amazing range of work done quickly, accurately and inexpensively. Pick the right tool, design proper instructions and process, and manage the stages properly to completion. However, most requests do not fit nicely into a simple set-up wizard. So, there is an opportunity for companies, individuals and services firms to become intermediaries or "translators" between the requestor and the workforce using the crowdsourcing technologies currently available - specialists that serve as resources to help clients design and manage online work. Every other technology category has them, but search on "crowdsourcing consultant" and it looks like Jason Spector will have to handle the whole industry all by himself.
In our paid crowdsourcing report, we use the rise of eCommerce as an outline for paid crowdsourcing's path to the mainstream. Online commerce is mainstream now for many reasons, but primarily the list below on the left.
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It stands to reason that shopping for work done via an online on-demand workforce would need to meet these same criteria to become mainstream.
The ingredients are available for mainstream success with crowdsourcing tools, but novice or occasional customers routinely struggle with 2 and 3 in the crowdsourcing list above. Vendors like 99Designs and CastingWords alleviate this by providing very specifically targeted services. This dramatically improves the likelihood of success. However, for the those vendor tools where a client's creativity is the only barrier to type of work requested, there are hundreds of tricks, tips and designs that only an expert can provide which improve the quality of results.
The overly simplified matrix above is intended to provide a framework for understanding where and how crowdsourcing consultants are needed.
Specific Work is work with expected results that are well understood, such as Design a Logo, or Transcribe an Audio File.
Ad-hoc Work is work with expected results that can vary widely depending on definition, such as Finding a List of Blogs, or Writing a Regression Test Script. The expected results vary by the requester. And, therefore, the setup and processing requirements are more difficult.
With a Specific Task like 'create a logo', crowdsourcing firms like 99Designs can guide the requestor through a nearly perfect setup process to ensure satisfactory results. Opening up the aperture on what people can request lessens a crowdsourcing vendor's ability to provide automated client guiderails. It's as we enter these types of work that crowdsourcing consultants begin to provide tremendous value. They can serve as the automated guiderails for the infinitely variable setup processes.
Certainly our customers at Smartsheet have made good use of our services team to get work done for them by the crowd. In many cases, it takes us a couple of hours to properly set up a totally unique new request like:
- Find all the Fly Fishing Guides in WA State
- Find all the blogs that focus on Weather Modification
- Find all the Plaintiff's attorneys for every active patent lawsuit
Smartsheet is happy to continue providing the crowdsourcing services for these projects, but a better model is for industry specialists to work across vendor platforms to provide clients with truly exceptional solutions. Mixing and matching crowdsourcing technologies with best practices will steadily increase in demand. Getting in on the ground floor as a crowdsourcing process expert in a business environment hungry for productivity gains could be a very good thing.
- Brent Frei