I just returned from the SIG (Sourcing Interest Group) Summit in beautiful Amelia Island Florida where Martha Crow, SVP, and I presented. We spoke with many great companies while we were there enjoying the conference and one recurring question that seemed to come up over and over again is “What makes a good crowd project for the Enterprise?”.
That is a great question because crowdsourcing has evolved significantly to accommodate the growing demand from enterprises for more cost-efficient, flexible staffing options. While the industry started with companies crowdsourcing minor tasks, the shift over the last few years has been to tackle bigger and more complex projects that require a wide array of skills, often necessitating a workforce with a global footprint.
So, how does a manager determine whether a project is a good candidate for an enterprise crowdsourcing engagement?
Most managers’ initial inclination is likely to eliminate the HR element entirely and send it off to the semi-conductor farm to be crunched by the computers. While there have been enormous advances in data recognition and processing software, there is still a major gap between machine intelligence and the innately human ability of deduction. It’s this deductive reason that allows a person to make the subjective decisions that go into product testing, rating content relevancy, or summarizing content. Therefore, the first major qualifier for a project’s potential for a crowdsourcing solution is the actual need for human input. Humans are also needed to accurately transcribe audio while accounting for regional dialects, slang, etc. One of the unique attributes of the crowd is its borderless footprint, which enables a crowd provider to reach into a global pool of workers to identify those with the very specific regional and local language knowledge necessary for such projects.
Volume and Fluctuation
The next consideration is the sheer volume of tasks and the fluctuation in that work. For the most part, projects with large volumes of tasks/data/work are usually the best projects for a crowd as they can be done, better, faster and cheaper with a crowd. Additionally, one of the key benefits of crowdsouring is its “elasticity” – the ability to ramp the workforce up and down quickly and efficiently. In any project, workloads are going to ebb and flow throughout and crowdsourcing’s output-based pricing structure will prevent a company from being saddled with hundreds or thousands of FTEs twiddling their collective thumbs when workloads temporarily wane. While there is some ramp up time associated with upsizing the crowd demanded for a project, the crowdsourcing model will accommodate both the high level of human-required tasks and the potential ebb and flow of that workload.
A perfect example of this ebb and flow is data entry associated with seasonal tax processing. To overcome that staffing demand, the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue tapped into our Enterprise Crowdsourcing platform to handle the irregular surge. Besides the savings on full time staff costs, personnel training, etc., the PA DOR was able to cut costs, improve data accuracy, and increase processing turnaround times by 70 percent!
The final criteria for a “crowd-worthy” project comes down to whether the component jobs within the overall project can be redesigned to be handled by the crowd, and are essentially repeatable. Because most jobs are created with a full-time staffer in mind, they often need to be broken down and rebuilt to function within the crowd. Each task is also infinitely repeatable so once the task is designed the crowd can be scaled to meet the demand for that specific job activity. In the above example of the PA DOR, we were able to use our proprietary crowd platform and our vcapture Snippet technology to divide each tax form into unidentifiable components (protecting personal data) to be processed by a private crowd of workers located within Pennsylvania to keep the work local. With the data appropriately compartmentalized, we could easily ramp up the works to support that flow of data as tax season reached its spring crescendo.
With these basic guidelines, enterprise-level project managers should be able to make an initial diagnosis of their projects to determine whether crowdsourcing can help them execute a more cost-effective solution. If you’re reading this thinking you might have a project in mind, reach out to me, Dori Albert, at Dori.Albert@lionbridge.com to see if we can ultimately give you a bigger and better bang for your buck. If your interest is only piqued, you can always take a look at our enterprise crowdsourcing primer, or a this white paper that provides some great examples of enterprises using the crowd.
Despite the recent news of Yahoo and Best Buy pulling their home workers back into the office, the trend of working-from-home is not going away anytime soon. Proof can be found in the recent New York Times article announcing the Freelancers Union, currently with over 200,000 members and growing quickly. The purpose of the Freelancers Union is to address freelancer concerns—about things like health insurance—so they can continue to enjoy the freedom of the freelance lifestyle.
The reality is that a growing number of workers prefer to work virtually and maintain the work-from-home flexibility. In a recent synthesis of over 500 studies, the Telework Research Network published some very interesting statistics that I encourage you to read. Here are a few that support the notion that working-from-home is on the rise:
Looking ahead to 2025, less than 15 years away, Gen Y will form 75% of the workforce. With advances in technology enabling workers to be productive anytime and anywhere, the notion of a 9 to 5 work day is rapidly becoming a thing of the past. Virtual work, and ultimately crowdsourcing, is ideal for anyone who works from home, has a part-time job, is a stay-at-home parent, retiree or recent graduate, or for anyone who prefers a flexible schedule and lifestyle. For Gen-Yers, crowd work could well become the occupation of choice.
Lionbridge’s Global Crowd consists of a private crowd of over 100,000 workers in over 100 countries. Our workers are heavily screened to ensure their skills meet the requirements of our clients’ projects and that the work is a good fit for the worker. Our crowd is highly educated, with over 90% of the workers holding a higher education degree. If you are interested in exploring this rising work trend and joining the elite Lionbridge Global Crowd, apply today.
A special thanks to Lia DiFranco for her assitance with this blog.
While there will always be a need for certain types of work to be done either onsite or in a global facility, the market is beginning to fatigue on offshore and outsourcing and looking for new alternatives. Evidence of that point is shown in new research figures released from analyst company Ovum revealing that in 2012 the global market for IT outsourcing services fell to its lowest point in over a decade. Outsourcing and offshoring are no longer regarded as models that deliver a competitive advantage. Corporations are now looking at Enterprise Crowdsourcing (ECS) as an innovative way to impact their business, now that they have realized there are limitations and downfalls with traditional outsourcing models. Let’s look at a side by side comparison: Continue reading »
This week, we’re on the show floor at Crowdopolis and I will be presenting to a great crowd (pun intended) on the topic of, “Crowdsourcing in Action: Secure Big Data Capture and Cleansing.” With tax season in full swing – and the thought of filing taxes on the minds of many – I hope there will be many captive ears in the audience as I explain how Lionbridge Enterprise Crowdsourcing’s Data Management Solutions for tax processing allow state governments’ departments of revenue to collect, cleanse and process vital tax data.
I’ll share with you some key highlights from my presentation. To begin, let’s take a look at some numbers. According to the U.S. Department of Treasury, the IRS collects $2.4 trillion each tax year from an estimated 234 million tax returns. Approximately 15 percent or 35 million are paper returns. According to the IRS, the estimated annual tax gap is $385 billion dollars which comes from non-filing, under reporting and under payment.
So the question becomes, how can big data help close the tax gap? Continue reading »
This week, Lionbridge announced our new suite of professional crowdsourcing offerings. As you may know, crowdsourcing is not new at Lionbridge and, in fact, we have been providing crowdsourcing services to our clients for many years, organically growing with our existing client’s to over $150M in annual revenue. In direct response to market demand, customer needs and the projected size of the market we are now, for the first time, launching our new offerings – Data Management, Translation, Testing, and Custom Crowd Solutions. By rolling out this suite of offerings t we are capitalizing on this momentum and providing the market with a new alternative way to get work done.
I recently sat down with Martha Crow, Senior Vice President of Global Enterprise Solutions, to get her take on the Enterprise Crowdsourcing market, why it’s the next generation of outsourcing, and what’s ahead for the market.
It’s Monday morning after the Super Bowl and the office is buzzing over last night’s big game – but it’s probably not all about what happened on the field between the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens. Your co-workers are more likely gathering to talk about the best and worst of the Super Bowl commercials. This year, another element caught people’s attention – crowdsourcing. Continue reading »
Over the course of two and a half months, starting in September, Lionbridge surveyed a specific list of Procurement managers to gauge awareness and current attitudes about crowdsourcing as a labor strategy for enterprise organizations.
The survey was designed to determine the following:
Lionbridge’s acquisition today of Virtual Solutions, Inc., (VSI) a recognized innovator in the data entry industry and a real up and comer in the crowdsourcing space, is exciting news for our respective employees, customers, prospects and business partners. But the significance of the fusion of the two companies — with their complementary experience and expertise — goes far beyond the headline heralding the continued consolidation in this white-hot segment. It underscores what Lionbridge, as well as many industry observers, have been predicting for the past few years: Crowdsourcing has truly arrived as an accepted business practice for medium and large corporations. Continue reading »
For those of you who would like to learn more about Enterprise Crowdsourcing, this Webinar is a great opportunity to connect and interact with industry and practice leaders, August 16th 2012, 2pm – 3pm EDT, a date not to be missed. Read more or Register Now.. Continue reading »
Quite a few years back when I told friends and family that I worked from home occasionally I got some strange looks and comments, along the lines of “You can do that..”. In my parents’ generation and even early in my working life you went out to work and came home to rest and play. Looks like the tables are now reversed. More and more people in all walks of life, locations and functions work from home on a part time and full time basis. Continue reading »