Thursday, July 18, 2013

Distributed Innovation - Saugatuck Research: What is Crowdsourcing?

Cloud technology has made it easy to scale apps and infrastructure, but scaling technical talent is still a bottleneck to growth and innovation. Or to put it another way, If Google is struggling to find technical resources, what hope is there for the rest of us?

Addressing the mismatch between - (1) the current ease of scaling apps and infrastructure and (2) difficulty scaling dev teams - will be the difference between firms that use technology and those that differentiate themselves through it.

In one definition, the public cloud can be described as a globally-accessible distributed network that relies on the real-time availability of the internet. It's a technology model that people use to maximize computing power. Concurrently the ubiquity of the internet and cloud computing platforms amongst the world's top technical resources means that there exists a "distributed system" of cloud experts all connected by the web.

All that's required is a model to engage them.

To quote wikipedia on distributed computing:
Distributed computing also refers to the use of distributed systems to solve computational problems. In distributed computing, a problem is divided into many tasks, each of which is solved by one or more computers, which communicate with each other by message passing.

The components interact with each other in order to achieve a common goal.
Let's now take some liberties and swap out "computing/systems" for "innovation/experts" and see what we end up with:
Distributed innovation also refers to the use of distributed experts to solve computational problems. In distributed innovation, a problem is divided into many tasks, each of which is solved by one or more experts, which communicate with each other by message passing.

The experts interact with each other in order to achieve a common goal.
If the cloud can be oversimplified to "distributed computing", then "distributed innovation" is our oversimplification of crowdsourcing.

Saugatuck Technology, an analyst firm focusing on how emerging technologies drive real change in business, recently published a crowdsourcing whitepaper on the impact of crowdsourcing in enterprise IT and product R&D. Here's an excerpt of the definition provided in that whitepaper:
Crowdsourcing is a method by which well-defined problems may be solved, usually by soliciting contributions from an online community, instead of from an organization’s own employees or traditional business partners. While crowdsourcing has many strands of antecedents converging on the current notion, the one key ingredient in today’s use of crowdsourcing is the Cloud. The Cloud is accessible universally, across geographies and time zones, national boundaries, mountains and oceans, and it is an ideal medium through which to aggregate the individuals with expertise in solving a particular problem. Participants in a crowdsourcing challenge may reside in Silicon Valley, Bangalore, Moscow, London or Tel Aviv. They may be students or housewives, moonlighting department store clerks or inventors. They may be of any age, nationality or ethnic group, but what they all will have in common is an understanding of the problem space.
Crowdsourcing. Or in other words, "distributed innovation". In regards to CloudSpokes, it's the distributed method for driving innovation through distributed computing.

Download Saugatuck's crowdsourcing whitepaper to learn more.

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