Welcome!

Agile Computing Authors: Mike Raia, Elizabeth White, PagerDuty Blog, Dana Gardner, JT Ripton

Related Topics: Microservices Expo, Agile Computing

Microservices Expo: Article

Is Everything I Know About Crowdsourcing Wrong?

Is traditional "wisdom" on crowdsourcing missing the point?

Crowdsourcing Visibility Soars
If you haven't heard about Crowdsourcing, you will soon. Crowdsourcing is increasingly in the news, and if you take stock in Google Trends, interest in the topic is increasing at a phenomenal rate.

I wrote an earlier article on this topic entitled  Crowdsourcing - a Best Practice or a Worst Practice?, as well as a follow-on article that was largely contributed by TopCoder, Inc. founder Jack Hughes: Maximizing Crowdsourcing Success.

For those not familiar with the term, Wikipedia's article opens with the following definition:

"sourcing tasks traditionally performed by specific individuals to an undefined large group of people or community (crowd) through an open call.(FZS)

Jeff Howe established that the concept of crowdsourcing depends essentially on the fact that because it is an open call to an undefined group of people, it gathers those who are most fit to perform tasks, solve complex problems and contribute with the most relevant and fresh ideas. For example, the public may be invited to develop a new technology, carry out a design task (also known as community-based design[1] or "design by democracy" and distributed participatory design), refine or carry out the steps of an algorithm (see human-based computation), or help capture, systematize or analyze large amounts of data (see also citizen science).

The term has become popular with businesses, authors, and journalists as shorthand for the trend of leveraging the mass collaboration enabled by Web 2.0 technologies to achieve business goals."

Then Wikipedia goes on to express (in characteristic Wikipedia style) that there is far from 100% agreement on the Crowdsource front: "However, both the term and its underlying business models have attracted controversy and criticisms."

Is Crowdsourcing the Next “....sourcing” Trend?
I've been around for a while now, and I'm used to technology trends coming and going. In some respects, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

I remember the “outsourcing” years where the big trend was to outsource the data center to companies like EDS. Or outsource application development to Andersen Consulting, or “Y2K” to E&Y or a mainframe re-hosting project to some other consulting giant. Same or better quality, less effort, less money. Or so the pitch went.

Then the trend evolved and the big buzz was to outsource everything to India - offshore outsourcing or “offshoring”. Many people jumped onto that bandwagon – proclaiming it as the same quality software at a huge discount. A lot of companies got burned on that one. Others did well.

So is Crowdsourcing simply the next stage in the evolution of this trend of cheaper/faster – after all, it shared the same root word, “sourcing”. So it's not surprising that the assumption is that it must be like offshoring but better. This opinion seems to be pretty commonly held.

Crowdsourcing as an evolution of the "...sourcing" trend?

Recent Crowdsourcing “in the news”
I've been keeping my eye on the Crowdsourcing trend for a couple of years now – keeping tabs on things like:

  • Amazon.com has a “Mechanical Turk” crowdsourcing platform. I use it myself. It's great for repetitive simple to define tasks where you don't want to pay much money. The other week, I wanted to find out how many people had read a lengthy list of articles on the Internet. I paid workers 5 pennies per article to find out for me. According to Amazon, the effective hourly rate was about $1.25 an hour. I suppose you could say that Crowdsourcing and Amazon helped me momentarily operate an Internet-enabled global sweat-shop.
  • The government in the U.K. is Crowdsourcing solutions for reducing government waste and spending. It's a bit like a next generation “suggestion box” on a country-wide level. The pay for that is even less than sweat-shop levels – nothing at all. This made me feel better about my own personal sweat-shop. If the civilized Brits can pay their fellow country-people nothing, then $1.25 an hour that I pay doesn't seem so bad.
  • Companies like TopCoder have been running “algorithm” bake-offs for years, where ultra-smart people write code to solve very focused problems and the winners get a small cash prize, some points and recognition. The non-winners walk away with nothing but “try better next time”.
  • Companies like uTest pay large numbers of widely distributed people small amounts of money to test software or websites for defects/bugs thus allowing companies to “crowdsource” aspects of quality assurance, and pay only when bugs are found.

So it's not at all surprising that the "traditional wisdom" is that  Crowdsourcing is great because:

    1) It's a global thing, so you have instant access to cheap labor
    2) You pay for performance. You only pay for successful work – bugs found, the best algorithms, etc.
    3) You get fast results. TopCoder, for example, advertises over 200,000 developers in their network. With that kind of parallel effort, things should get done in no time at all.

So, to expand on the first graphic, does it look more like this, then?

But Is Traditional Wisdom on Target?
TopCoder, Inc. founder Jack Hughes tells me that I'm missing the point, that I've got it wrong. And to top it off, he doesn't like the term “Crowdsourcing”.

Well, if I've got it all wrong - that would make “me and a lot of other people”.

It's very possible. I was wrong about eBay back in the early 1990s. And I never thought people would pay $5.00 for a cup of coffee. Or $5 for a bottle of water.

I've decided to find out as much as I can. What better place to get to the bottom of things than the 2011 TopCoder Open being held this week in Hollywood, Florida?  It's the biggest concentration of Crowdsourcing participants on the planet.  So I decided to go.  I'm here now at the “Open” to talk to as many people as I can, and decide for myself what Crowdsourcing is all about, and form my own opinion about the moniker “Crowdsourcing”.

I'm sure I'll get an earful. I'll be writing much more about this - more to come this week and next.

More Stories By Hollis Tibbetts

Hollis Tibbetts, or @SoftwareHollis as his 50,000+ followers know him on Twitter, is listed on various “top 100 expert lists” for a variety of topics – ranging from Cloud to Technology Marketing, Hollis is by day Evangelist & Software Technology Director at Dell Software. By night and weekends he is a commentator, speaker and all-round communicator about Software, Data and Cloud in their myriad aspects. You can also reach Hollis on LinkedIn – linkedin.com/in/SoftwareHollis. His latest online venture is OnlineBackupNews - a free reference site to help organizations protect their data, applications and systems from threats. Every year IT Downtime Costs $26.5 Billion In Lost Revenue. Even with such high costs, 56% of enterprises in North America and 30% in Europe don’t have a good disaster recovery plan. Online Backup News aims to make sure you all have the news and tips needed to keep your IT Costs down and your information safe by providing best practices, technology insights, strategies, real-world examples and various tips and techniques from a variety of industry experts.

Hollis is a regularly featured blogger at ebizQ, a venue focused on enterprise technologies, with over 100,000 subscribers. He is also an author on Social Media Today "The World's Best Thinkers on Social Media", and maintains a blog focused on protecting data: Online Backup News.
He tweets actively as @SoftwareHollis

Additional information is available at HollisTibbetts.com

All opinions expressed in the author's articles are his own personal opinions vs. those of his employer.

@ThingsExpo Stories
The 19th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Digital Transformation, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportuni...
DevOps at Cloud Expo, taking place Nov 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 19th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long dev...
SYS-CON Events announced today Telecom Reseller has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Telecom Reseller reports on Unified Communications, UCaaS, BPaaS for enterprise and SMBs. They report extensively on both customer premises based solutions such as IP-PBX as well as cloud based and hosted platforms.
In today's uber-connected, consumer-centric, cloud-enabled, insights-driven, multi-device, global world, the focus of solutions has shifted from the product that is sold to the person who is buying the product or service. Enterprises have rebranded their business around the consumers of their products. The buyer is the person and the focus is not on the offering. The person is connected through multiple devices, wearables, at home, on the road, and in multiple locations, sometimes simultaneously...
Pulzze Systems was happy to participate in such a premier event and thankful to be receiving the winning investment and global network support from G-Startup Worldwide. It is an exciting time for Pulzze to showcase the effectiveness of innovative technologies and enable them to make the world smarter and better. The reputable contest is held to identify promising startups around the globe that are assured to change the world through their innovative products and disruptive technologies. There w...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 19th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - comp...
For basic one-to-one voice or video calling solutions, WebRTC has proven to be a very powerful technology. Although WebRTC’s core functionality is to provide secure, real-time p2p media streaming, leveraging native platform features and server-side components brings up new communication capabilities for web and native mobile applications, allowing for advanced multi-user use cases such as video broadcasting, conferencing, and media recording.
Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, a director and senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, will discuss the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
SYS-CON Events announced today that 910Telecom will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Housed in the classic Denver Gas & Electric Building, 910 15th St., 910Telecom is a carrier-neutral telecom hotel located in the heart of Denver. Adjacent to CenturyLink, AT&T, and Denver Main, 910Telecom offers connectivity to all major carriers, Internet service providers, Internet backbones and ...
Amazon has gradually rolled out parts of its IoT offerings in the last year, but these are just the tip of the iceberg. In addition to optimizing their back-end AWS offerings, Amazon is laying the ground work to be a major force in IoT – especially in the connected home and office. Amazon is extending its reach by building on its dominant Cloud IoT platform, its Dash Button strategy, recently announced Replenishment Services, the Echo/Alexa voice recognition control platform, the 6-7 strategic...
19th Cloud Expo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterpri...
Akana has announced the availability of version 8 of its API Management solution. The Akana Platform provides an end-to-end API Management solution for designing, implementing, securing, managing, monitoring, and publishing APIs. It is available as a SaaS platform, on-premises, and as a hybrid deployment. Version 8 introduces a lot of new functionality, all aimed at offering customers the richest API Management capabilities in a way that is easier than ever for API and app developers to use.
Personalization has long been the holy grail of marketing. Simply stated, communicate the most relevant offer to the right person and you will increase sales. To achieve this, you must understand the individual. Consequently, digital marketers developed many ways to gather and leverage customer information to deliver targeted experiences. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Lou Casal, Founder and Principal Consultant at Practicala, discussed how the Internet of Things (IoT) has accelerated our abil...
With so much going on in this space you could be forgiven for thinking you were always working with yesterday’s technologies. So much change, so quickly. What do you do if you have to build a solution from the ground up that is expected to live in the field for at least 5-10 years? This is the challenge we faced when we looked to refresh our existing 10-year-old custom hardware stack to measure the fullness of trash cans and compactors.
The emerging Internet of Everything creates tremendous new opportunities for customer engagement and business model innovation. However, enterprises must overcome a number of critical challenges to bring these new solutions to market. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Michael Martin, CTO/CIO at nfrastructure, outlined these key challenges and recommended approaches for overcoming them to achieve speed and agility in the design, development and implementation of Internet of Everything solutions wi...
Cloud computing is being adopted in one form or another by 94% of enterprises today. Tens of billions of new devices are being connected to The Internet of Things. And Big Data is driving this bus. An exponential increase is expected in the amount of information being processed, managed, analyzed, and acted upon by enterprise IT. This amazing is not part of some distant future - it is happening today. One report shows a 650% increase in enterprise data by 2020. Other estimates are even higher....
I wanted to gather all of my Internet of Things (IOT) blogs into a single blog (that I could later use with my University of San Francisco (USF) Big Data “MBA” course). However as I started to pull these blogs together, I realized that my IOT discussion lacked a vision; it lacked an end point towards which an organization could drive their IOT envisioning, proof of value, app dev, data engineering and data science efforts. And I think that the IOT end point is really quite simple…
"My role is working with customers, helping them go through this digital transformation. I spend a lot of time talking to banks, big industries, manufacturers working through how they are integrating and transforming their IT platforms and moving them forward," explained William Morrish, General Manager Product Sales at Interoute, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with the 19th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world and ThingsExpo Silicon Valley Call for Papers is now open.
Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more business becomes digital the more stakeholders are interested in this data including how it relates to business. Some of these people have never used a monitoring tool before. They have a question on their mind like “How is my application doing” but no id...