These companies grew rapidly in their respective domains. They didn’t need much infrastructure to get going, because the key ingredient that they all needed to become global powerhouses was in place all along. What is that key ingredient? PEOPLE! People that USE and PROVIDE these companies’ great services. Essentially, these platforms have amassed billions of dollars just by connecting people with needs and people that can satisfy those needs. But I think that same principle should be extended to virtually every industry, because crowdsourcing would make entire industries so much more flexible, efficient, and affordable.
Lets look at Uber specifically. As a traditional taxi company, Uber could have invested huge capital into a large fleet of Taxis and trained a fleet of full-time drivers. But all these expenditures and efforts would actually significantly deteriorate the experience Uber delivers today. Lets look at the benefits crowdsourcing enables for providers, users, and enablers (the company itself, such as Uber or Airbnb):
- A more customized experience
- Cheaper services (due to less overhead costs)
- Greater access to services
- Essentially self-employed
- More flexible work experience
- Greater autonomy, mastery and purpose in work
- Freedom to provide various services
- Far greater flexibility to innovate
- Virtually no physical barriers to growth
- Innovation can come from the outside vs. inside
- Perfect for diminishing corporate loyalty trends
How can other companies adopt crowdsourcing models, and take advantage of these benefits? The first step would be to verify that providers are certified to complete the service being provided by your company. This might be the hardest step in the entire process, but it is necessary. Uber conducts background checks on its drivers and confirms that they can drive around customers successfully. Airbnb evaluates accommodations before listing them on their platform for rent. Alibaba has a thorough feedback process to make sure users are selling authentic products in a reasonable time frame, and Facebook has a similar feedback process to ensure users are not sharing spam and other unwanted content onto news feeds. This can get particularly complicated for more specialized occupations, such as with physicians, but it is nonetheless absolutely possible and extremely profitable. If any person A has a skill that can be utilized by any person B, there should be a platform that connects those two individuals- as soon as it is confirmed that person A can in fact complete the given service needed by person B.
Once a user is certified to complete a task, they can choose when they want to offer their services. And the best part is that they can offer multiple services if they possess the skills or equipment needed for those services. Today, many individuals are selling items on Alibaba, driving around their Ubers during the day and renting out rooms in their homes through Airbnb- all at their own leisure, with virtually complete autonomy. What if they were also a certified plumber? They could turn on the option to be contacted on a new “plumber” platform like Uber whenever they want, and offer their services at a significantly cheaper cost than plumbing companies would. The same thing goes for construction, cooking, and many other services, all of which would collectively enable an open-contract economy. And it is completely possible for specialized tasks as well.
If a person knows multiple programming languages, like Python, Java, and SQL, they can apply to join an elite “Uber” network of programmers, and perhaps also an elite “Uber” network of technology consultants. Google can contractually hire that individual for 2 months to work on an application, after which he can offer his services to Deloitte’s technology consulting practice, all the while driving an Uber at nights to make some extra money on the side. There will be noncompete clauses, confidentiality agreements, and much more to go alongside these crowdsourcing applications. But the potential is absolutely there, especially for more unspecialized tasks, and accountability is already being placed upon the individual more than ever before. Millennials in particular are known for their lack of corporate loyalty, desire to explore, and desire for flexibility. Thus, having multiple employers through crowdsourcing platforms would be extremely appealing to the employee of tomorrow. Companies would not have to worry about the immense recruiting and capital costs associated with employees leaving and having to poach employees from other firms. And all the while, costs would be cut considerably, and users would enjoy much cheaper and more specialized services because of crowdsourcing.
What crowdsourcing opportunities do YOU see available in today’s world?