The emerging process of “crowdsourcing” provides an avenue for creativity and innovation by tapping the power of the Internet and social media. According to Wikipedia, “crowdsourcing is a neologism for the act of taking tasks traditionally performed by an employee or contractor, and outsourcing them to a group of people or community, through an "open call" to a large group of people (a crowd) asking for contributions.” The community that sprang up around the development of Linux is a benchmark example of the success of crowdsourcing. The process of crowdsourcing is viable for any number and genre of tasks that might benefit from a varied and populous creative resource. This includes developing new technologies, designing new products or analyzing huge amounts of data/information. Crowdsourcing can shorten time to market for new products, uncover ways to cut costs or improve service levels, and heighten market success for new products or enhancements.
Critical to success in this emerging model is precise articulation of the objective. Achieving that, companies can then access thousands of people possessing design, engineering, R & D and promotional skills that are simply not available to firms that are reticent to staff up in the current environment. Crowdsourcing is not risk-free. Participants are not employees and, thus, are not subject to enterprises’ established policies, procedures and controls. That may be a small price to pay to access critical competencies in a cost-effective and expeditious manner.