Next-Generation Outsourcing: Enterprise Crowdsourcing

Martha Crow

Five Tips for Successfully Crowd-Powering your Organization

Outsourcing a function or role previously completed by an organization’s employee in order to reduce cost and increase efficiencies is quickly being taken over by a significantly more disruptive force that is changing – in many cases, dramatically – the way work gets done. Just as developing countries and our younger generation of workers in all geographies are jumping straight to mobile Web services and leapfrogging traditional “wired” infrastructure, many companies are engaging in crowdsourcing over a more traditional outsourcing approach. This is known as “Enterprise Crowdsourcing.”


The beauty of Enterprise Crowdsourcing is that it holds the potential to serve as the future of outsourcing. It does so by delivering results and managing communities without restrictions or barriers - no language barriers that need to be broken, no timelines that need to be crossed or even flights booked.  By hiring professional pre-qualified crowd workers and managing their projects and work within the cloud, many enterprises – including my company’s and many of its customers and partners – have eliminated the typical restrictions that other global managers may have by transcending these barriers and breaking new ground in developing and deploying enterprise solutions.  What’s more, with a professional crowd model, enterprises pay only for successful completion of a given task, and they have complete elasticity to scale up and down as needed.

Clearly, more work is moving to the cloud thanks to rapid technology advances that allow work to be done seamlessly and securely. At the same time, in most organizations, roles get divided into activities, which further break down into work packages and eventually “tasks” to be completed by individual crowds across the globe. This can often cause workers to be either terrified or excited, or both.

To address both these emotions, here are some key points to help distinguish what is, and, more importantly, what isn’t, Enterprise Crowdsourcing.

  1. It’s a Managed Service, not an Open Call: It’s not about launching data and tasks into the ether and hoping for the best, it’s about building and managing a qualified and screened community of individuals to complete the work.
  2. The Crowd is Representative: Four people dispersed across the cloud a crowd does not make. Our “crowd” at Lionbridge comprises thousands of workers living in more than 100 countries, capable of speaking 102 different languages, including thousands of professionals across the United States. Clearly, a community this broad and diverse can represent users, customers, and even a company’s brand.
  3. The Crowd is Secure and Reliable: Enterprise crowdsourcing is extremely dependent upon a rock-solid infrastructure. This means that workers must be screened and validated before they are hired and deployed. Furthermore, tools and services require high-end technology and optimally are supported by an organization with physical presence around the globe. These items are non-negotiable.
  4. It’s Big and Small: Depending on the tasks an organization is looking to complete, the crowd can be easily customized to fit exact specifications. The crowd works best when it is organized and broken down by specific tasks to be crowdsourced and through a careful identification of the skills and knowledge that are implicit and tacit to completing the task. When necessary, the crowd should be scaled to meet demand.
  5. It’s Not a Panacea: Some things work better than others in a crowdsourced environment. Not everything is possible, just like not everything can be outsourced. Focusing on the activities that have persistence, are repeatable, well-defined, and can be disaggregated from existing workflows and reconnected when complete are a few key elements.

Martha Crow is Senior Vice President, Global Testing, Development and Crowdsourcing, Lionbridge Technologies.

Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Mar 25, 2013 7:37 PM Alleli Aspili Alleli Aspili  says:
Definitely a good way to explain the difference between outsourcing and crowdsourcing! Some people actually think that crowdsourcing is another new term which isn’t so related with outsourcing. Well, it turns out to be that crowdsourcing can or will be the next big thing in the forthcoming years. As what you’ve entitled this post, it is the next-generation outsourcing. Reply
Feb 1, 2016 9:10 PM Maryann Farrugia Maryann Farrugia  says:
Well most of the data today are being stored in cloud system because its more convenient and more easy to access. Crowdsourcing is good strategy, collecting data will be more easier. Reply

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