August 14, 2012

Top 10 Technology Trends for Advisors and Their Partners: Pt. 10, Crowdsourcing

In the previous post of our twelve-part blog series on the Top 10 Technology Trends for advisors and their partners, we discussed how advisors can take advantage of the benefits of social media, and how to avoid its dangers. The ninth trend we will discuss in this post is crowdsourcing.

Crowdsourcing is the act of sourcing tasks traditionally performed by specific individuals to a group of people or a community (crowd) through an open call. While the outsourcing trend discussed earlier typically consists of hiring an individual or firm to perform a task, crowdsourcing is accomplished by a group of people helping you accomplish your task.   

Crowdsourcing really grew out of the technical arena. With the advent of chat rooms, IT people would post their technology challenges online and other tech experts would answer questions, thus providing value to the entire group. To see an example of this, take a look at the results of this Google search on “Windows 7 error message opening Word documents.”  There are 66 million results, many of them chat rooms or forums in which experts share ideas on how to solve specific problem.  

There are a number of examples of companies that have built businesses based on crowdsourcing. For example, iStockphoto.com allows amateur and professional photographers, illustrators,and videographers to upload their work and earn royalties when their images are bought and downloaded. Threadless.com lets online members submit T-shirt designs and vote on which ones should be produced. 99designs.com is a crowdsourcing marketplace where individuals and small businesses can post graphic work that they need done. Amazon has created a crowdsourcing marketplace called Mechanical Turk where anyone can get work accomplished by posting tasks to the marketplace.  

For the financial industry, a simple example of crowdsourcing is coming up with a logo for a new advisory firm. In the past, if you wanted to start your own practice, you may have hired a marketing firm and paid them several thousand dollars to create a firm name that captured the essence of who you are and what you’re trying to achieve. With crowdsourcing, you can create a competition, where many users compete to provide you with a logo and you offer a prize for the winning entrant.  Another good example would be naming your new firm. With crowdsourcing, you might share your challenge in an online forum (e.g., a private LinkedIn group) and group members will share their ideas with you, free of charge. 

The bottom line for advisors is that for many tasks and projects where it was previously difficult to find the right resource or prohibitively expensive to hire someone, those same tasks can now be done affordably and efficiently through crowdsourcing.  As client expectations increase and advisors need to get more work done, crowdsourcing may be the right solution for your firm to get tasks accomplished quickly and cost effectively.

View all the articles in this series at the Top Tech Trends home page. 

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