Crowdsourcing is Here to Stay

Crowdsourcing may qualify as a buzz word, but that doesn’t mean the concept is any less valid or on point. The basic idea is that two heads are better than one, that three or more is better. In theory, crowdsourcing can be tantamount to free labor when you use ideas from your customers, but in practice, the concept plays a bit differently. Modern crowdsourcing implies a sort of collective intelligence, especially now that user-generated media is blurring the lines between the company and the consumer.

Crowdsourcing Today

Now 10 years old, crowdsourcing has matured and continues to expand. Six in 10 organizations already use crowdsourcing at some level, from Toyota inviting the crowd to create its new logo in 1936 to Wikipedia, the ultimate example of a crowdsourced resource, to Starbucks asking customers for ideas on new products and coffee flavors — and the trend is growing. Nearly 75 percent of management teams see crowdsourcing as a priority for the future, and freelance work is rising as a result. According to Gartner, “By 2020, nearly 60% of HR leaders will use a unified talent management strategy for employees, contractors, and freelancers.”

The Digital Marketplace

The digital marketplace is filled with freelance content, staffing, and project websites, like Scripted or Upwork. They allow companies to hire professionals on an ad-hoc basis to fill specific needs and add a fresh perspective. However, while these professionals have much to contribute within their niches, crowdsourcing, as a whole, remains highly fragmented.

Organizations still struggle to build long-term crowdsourcing strategies, because each “type” of crowdsourcing must be completed on a different platform with its own compensation and focus. This makes it difficult for an organization to build a strong community, so many companies are seeking a way to unify, simplify and aggregate crowdsourcing efforts. Incentives may help.

Incentive Challenges

A large number of modern organizations have embraced the incentive challenge model for crowdsourcing, including XPRIZE, Google, NASA, DARPA, Cisco, Virgin, and SpaceX, among others. However, adapting the incentive-based crowdsourcing model to smaller companies has traditionally been met with difficulties. It can be labor-intensive, and that can be difficult for smaller companies to afford, let alone execute properly.


Each crowdsourcing challenge contributes to your brand’s crowd, growing into a formidable workforce your organization can engage on demand. Unfortunately, many incentive challenges are custom-made one-offs using a labor-intensive approach. Often, more than 100 percent of the prize amount is spent to run an incentive challenge. However, if you can automate most of the process you can reduce project costs by 5-10x.



Alsever, Jennifer, “What is Crowdsourcing?” CBS MoneyWatch, March 7, 2007. Accessed:

Angeles, Sara, “Why Hiring Freelancers Makes Sense for Small Businesses,” Business News Daily, July 16, 2014. Accessed:

Bradley, Anthony, “How to Use a New Talent Management Strategy to Win the Escalating Hiring Wars,” Capterra, April 28, 2016. Accessed: