Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Crowdsourcing: A strategy for companies to consider

Last December, I had the opportunity to listen to Leila Janah speak about Samasource (of which she is founder and CEO), a nonprofit organization that connects impoverished people to work via the internet [1]. This method is termed "crowdsourcing" which, to define more generally, is a distributed problem-solving and production model [2].

What started out as a nonprofit, has now evolved into the for-profit Samasource (".com") which allows companies to "outsource [their] work, save money, do good. [3]" In reading a few blog entries from classmates, I share the concern regarding quality when it comes to outsourcing. However, Samasource ensures quality by focusing on 3 core services: moderating image and text content, enhancing records quality, and data entry. Furthermore, their model for outsourcing work, while lowering cost and maintaining quality, is as follows:
  1. Customers send Samasource a project.
  2. Samasource breaks the project down into microwork.
  3. Work is allocated to service partners around the world.
  4. Trained graduates complete project tasks. (Samasource trains its workers)
  5. Samasource compiles work and assures quality.
  6. Customer projects get delivered on time and under budget.
Time will tell if this strategy will work for Samasource.com and for companies seeking their services, but I sure hope it does! Samasource gives small businesses the opportunity of taking advantage of the outsourcing strategy to gain or maintain their competitive advantage. There is also the added (and awesome!) benefit of empowering people to get out of the poverty cycle.

I'd be interested to know what others thought about crowdsourcing, and in particular, the example I gave of Samasource.com.

References:
  1. http://www.samasource.org/about/
  2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crowdsourcing
  3. http://www.samasource.com/about/

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