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2013: The year of uptick in enterprise crowdsourcing?

Those who work with IT are accustomed to hearing about outsourcing arrangements and cloud computing. Put these concepts together and you get what has been coined the “human cloud.” The Human Cloud is a sourcing ecosystem that engages a pool of online workers, or suppliers, that can be tapped on-demand to provide a wide range of services to any interested buyer. Buyers contract suppliers or workers through one of dozens of online platforms.

2012 saw the consolidation of several platforms, a sign of a maturing industry. Lionbridge bought Virtual Solutions and Freelancer bought vWorker (parent company of RentaCoder).

Even microsoft is excited about the human cloud. See this video. Meanwhile, lionbridge has a great explanatory video.

2013 will see a shift from small business buyers to adoption by large enterprises as well as a shift from outsourcing of one-off projects to the outsourcing of processes where streams of activities in workflows are performed by “cloud” workers. Large enterprises will continue to develop internal human clouds composed of unassigned workers who may engage in modular work. As information and communication technology advances, outsourcing to the Human Cloud will eventually disrupt the multi-billion dollar business process outsourcing industry. Off-shoring becomes every-shoring, then the world is truly flat.

Hyperspecialization will transform the developing world

Cross posted from G+. see post

I have recently posted about hyperspecialization (breaking work down into smaller pieces that can be done by several people in sequence or at once). Think of it as the vertical disintegration of the knowledge worker. This concept has profound implications. Two anecdotes coming from China and Nepal point to the hope of what hyperspecialization will bring.

The first comes from CloudFactory. While I was chatting with developer support, I learned that they were not based in Silicon Valley as I had imagined, but rather Kathmandu Valley, Nepal. They just launched last month with the audacious goal of creating “1M jobs in the developing world starting in Nepal.” I think cloudfactory has a fantastic product, and I like how they see themselves akin to Kiva. “Kiva connects people for microloans, CloudFactory connects people for microwork.”

The second was from the conclusion of a paper by two scholars at Nan Kai University in Tianjin, China. I quote: “The development of crowdsourcing will play a key role in the transition process from “made in China” to “created in China”.

So there you have it. Three people in the developing world who see the tremendous potential for microsourcing/microwork to dramatically change their economy. I see it as well, and am excited to see how this plays out.

Shared Services in the news

My research involves IT Shared Services. Shared Services is a management concept which has been around since the late 80’s. Often when new articles and press releases come out they pop up on my radar.

I thought I’d share a few good ones that I have seen in the past few months:

In the general Shared Services area (not IT-specific):

The Process is the Punishment

How true that statement is, well sometimes. In a recent meeting, I sat by Wendy Gaustaferro from the Criminal Justice department. The Process is the PunishmentShe was preparing to teach a class ideas presented in Feeley’s 1979 “The process is the punishment“, which describes the lower criminal courts of new haven Connecticut. After months of observing the Court of Common Pleas, Feeley writes:

“Jammed every morning with a new mass of arrestees who have been picked up the night before, lower courts rapidly process what the police consider to be ‘routine’ problems – barroom brawls, neighborhood squabbles, domestic disputes, welfare cheating, shoplifting, drug possession, and prostitution – not ‘real’ crimes. These courts are chaotic and confusing; officials communicate in a verbal shorthand wholly unintelligble to accused and accuser alike, and they seem to make arbitrary decision, sending one person to jail and freeing the next.”

As I understand it, the basic idea of the book  is that having to go through the court process is punishment in itself. Apart from the courts there are plenty of punishing processes. DMVs, Departments of Watershed Management Offices, all conjure an image of punishing lines and archaic forms.   Within the enterprise, it is often these punishing processes which lead many to take the easiest but less efficient route. All the more reason for Business Process Management and Improvement.

Tips for Grad School

colleague forwarded me a nice blog post by an MIT PhD student on grad school advice.

It is a great list… except exercise is missing from it, as well as timeboxing.