What is crowdsourcing?

Yesterday Prof. Venkat Subramanian (Strategic Management) spoke about crowdsourcing as part of the value proposition of a business model. The only example that came was some activities at Johnson & Johnson. But in fact we were all like Mr. Jourdain, crowdsourcing all our lives without knowing it (or at least not without labeling it as “crowdsourcing”). Facebook, Wikipedia, Twitter, LinkedIn, … these are all tools that most of us use and that create their value by tapping in the participation of crowds.

Crowdsourcing was first coined by Jeff Howe (@Crowdsourcing) in a Wired article, in 2006: “The Rise of Crowdsourcing“. Already at that time, examples were abundant: iStockphoto, Web Junk 20, Eli Lilly InnoCentive, Amazon Mechanical Turk, etc. But let’s wait no more, Jeff Howe himself will define crowdsourcing:

For those who prefer to read, here is the definition (there is even a book):

Crowdsourcing is the act of taking a job traditionally performed by a designated agent (usually an employee) and outsourcing it to an undefined, generally large group of people in the form of an open call.

Jeff Howe emphasis two crucial terms: open call and undefined. Wikipedia takes a broader view and defines crowdsourcing as: a distributed problem-solving and a production process.

And examples now are abundant and in various fields: creating a bike map of Moscow, funding a music group,  design of furniture, crowdsourcing the writing of a Ph.D. thesis on crowdsourcing :-), solving algorithmic problems, or even producing a movie (Life in a Day, watch below)!

Now the real question is: does it really create additional value? Or is it just a way to produce at a cheap price? Or is it just a bubble? Some think crowdsourcing has plenty of myths, others link it to co-creation as the real value creator, others just include it in the broader framework of Open Innovation, … What are you thinking of crowdsourcing?


One Response to What is crowdsourcing?

  1. Pingback: Crowdsourcing: Pros, Cons, and More » iGraphi

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