A new trend is taking corporate Australia by storm, and is tipped to become a central problem-solving strategy in the future of business and society.
'Crowdsourcing' describes how companies tap the collective capabilities of experts around the world, ranging from small businesses engaging overseas website designers through to multinationals drawing on as many internal and external contributors as possible to generate innovation and drive success.
According to Ross Dawson, author of the new book Getting Results from Crowds, the shift to global work is not a problem for Australia, and it is a 'massive opportunity'.
Dawson said the future of our economy depends on embracing crowdsourcing, because as bandwidth soars, high value services can be done anywhere on the globe, exposing almost all Australian workers to both competition and new opportunities.
Dawson, chairman of think-tank Future Exploration Network pointed to several key issues:
- Australian business is uniquely qualified for success in the richly connected services-based global economy of today, given our world-class capabilities in project management and client relationships and our cultural and language skills.
- Australian companies are already world leaders in crowdsourcing. For example, Sydney based Freelancer.com is the world's largest service marketplace with almost three million freelancers on its books. Melbourne's 99designs, which recently raised $35m in US venture capital, is the world's largest graphic design competition platform, while data science competition firm Kaggle is the world leader in its field and recently raised $11m.
- The ethical debate: to hire locally or hire globally. Cost, quality, and contribution to local communities are among the many factors to consider. However, giving valuable and challenging work to people in developing countries is arguably the best way to help them participate in the global economy and create opportunities beyond working in sweatshops.
- Using crowdsourcing and crowdfunding (funding ventures through many small contributions) allows Australian entrepreneurs to build valuable world-class companies. An increasing proportion of our economy is based on entrepreneurial services and technology ventures.
Dawson added that the nature of work is undeniably and rapidly changing. He said Australians can build personal career success by embracing the reality and opportunities of crowdsourcing, including the shift to freelancing and independent work, the value of collaboration with peers, and the need for continual skill development.