Ask any IT or HR director what keeps them up at night and, no doubt, talent is top-of-mind. Finding employees with the skills and resources needed to deliver a great mobile and digital experience is a huge challenge, and swamps the resources of most companies. But, in order for companies to remain competitive, they need to have a business strategy that incorporates digital and mobile.
Building apps, designing logos and analyzing data requires skilled programmers, developers and data scientists — easier said than done. According to a 2014 IDC survey of more than 8,000 mobile developers and 121 IT decision makers, finding skilled developers is the top obstacle to timely app releases. And in a recent Opinion Matters survey, only six percent of enterprises say they have all the mobile developer talent they need internally. They survey also revealed that it can be a daunting challenge to find people who are qualified to take an app from a simple idea through to execution.
This is especially true for iOS in the enterprise. As of last summer, 75 billion apps were downloaded from the Apple App Store, yet only 10 percent of them were business-related. The demand is high; for example, among Fortune 500 companies, 90 percent of business applications activations were on Apple’s iOS operating system, and Piper Jaffray recently cited that 89 percent of corporations provide their employees with iOS devices. How does an enterprise solve the problem of high demand for iOS apps but low availability of great technical talent to build them? One solution to this problem is crowdsourcing.
With crowdsourcing, business leaders have access to a massive, global community of developers, designers and data scientists who are able to provide enterprises with solutions to their business needs. Tapping into the crowd not only eliminates some of the risk associated with new product development and innovation, but talent sourcing becomes a manageable part of strategic workforce planning, rather than relinquishing to a “buy or build” analysis.
By leveraging a crowdsourcing model, within a few days, organizations can have access to potentially hundreds of people submitting their own solution to the problem. In addition, the challenge-based aspect of crowdsourcing enables community members to vie for a cash prize, creating a platform to bring the most innovative solutions to market. However, with crowdsourcing, companies only pay for the results they use, not for the effort or time spent developing a solution.
For enterprises that are willing to take the plunge and adopt this way of doing business, the benefits are great, and they are able to keep up in today’s competitive environment. Below are five ways crowdsourcing is changing the workforce as we know it today:
- Taps into the power of community
It’s not just about immediate access to scientific, designer and developer knowledge, though that’s one of the obvious benefits. It’s quite literally an expert on-demand, and not just one expert, virtually-unlimited experts. The crowd is an elastic resource pool that allows an enterprise to scale up or scale down easily and instantly depending on the immediate need. And, with multiple experts at your disposal, it eliminates the risk of hiring just one employee to complete a project. With the crowd, companies have access to the best technical talent in the world, whenever they need it.
- Churns through project backlogs
Companies that have more tasks than employees available can turn to crowdsourcing to quickly churn through project backlogs without the risk, expense and resources frequently involved with recruiting, onboarding and retaining employees. Not only does the crowd free up time and resources for projects that have been put on the backburner, it also opens the door for greater innovation on a much broader scale.
- Provides a hybrid labor model approach
Investing in offshore IT providers used to be the way to go — this is now a $100 billion industry involving millions of workers in India. The labor model 2.0 weaves all this together, creating a model with offshore employees, in-office talent and crowdsourcing. Additionally, the goal of the crowd is not to replace IT departments, but instead to use it as a supplemental resource that allows for greater collaboration and innovation.
- Eliminates year-long projects
No one wants to invest that amount of resources and time. Word of advice: start small and repeat quickly. Developing an app prototype? Simply input data and, in less than a week, the crowd takes over.
- Intersects cloud computing and crowdsourcing
Lots of people talk about cloud computing. But providing tangible cloud computing implementation to bring cloud-based software application development online is an entirely different story. A crowdsourcing solution in the cloud helps customers implement “cross-cloud” projects that involve more than one cloud vendor.
Crowdsourcing is transforming the way business is done. As history has shown, the power of online communities is indisputable. If you think two heads are better than one, think what a community of 800,000 can do. That power is now shifting to crowdsourcing to solve the IT skills dilemma.
Mike Morris is the general manager of crowdsourcing at Appirio.