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Ways to use crowdsourcing to increase innovation

Ways to use crowdsourcing to increase innovation

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Published by Crowdsourcing.org

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Published by: Crowdsourcing.org on Nov 08, 2011
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02/03/2013

 
By Sal Partovi, November 8, 2011
Afascinating article made the rounds last month, describing a crowdsourcing success story involvingteams of international gamers, AIDS, and a specificprotein's structure.For about a decade, scientists from all over the globe have been stumped tofigure out how a protein-cutting enzyme from an AIDS-like virus found in rhesusmonkeys folds.
When an attempt to use “Rosetta”, a protein
-folding application,failed to solve the problem, researchers turned to a last resort - a unique gamingplatform calledFold.it. 
To everyone’s surprise, a team of 15 gamers calling
themselves the
“Contenders” solved a riddle in 10 days that had stumped
scientists for years -
“an accomplishment that could point the way tocrowdsourced cures for AIDS and other diseases” according to 
So what does a protein structure have to do with cloud computing?
 While the concept of crowdsourcing is still in its relative infancy (the term itself 
wasn’t
), it seems like every day there’s a new company or
service using crowdsourcing to create assets
 
, recommend things  or even outsource microtasks.  The real question is no longer whether crowdsourcing is here to stay or whether itcan provide value - the questions lay more around the model itself. Whatproblems can crowdsourcing be applied to next? How should a provider structurethe community to promote collaboration and ensure the best ideas rise to the
 
top? How do people effectively use the model and the results?These were all questions Appirio asked when we createdCloudSpokes - a crowdsourcing community for cloud development - earlier this year. As a cloudservice broker, Appirio is focused on helping enterprises successfully adopt,connect and extend public cloud platforms.
Over the last five years, we’ve built
an internal team of 400 cloud experts to do this, but early on saw the need tofoster and tap into a broader community of developers to create solutions forourselves, our customers and the industry overall. The community has since
grown to 25,000+ members and we’re constantly surprised at the different waysit’s being used.
 CloudSpokes was not created to just address our needs. Like the protein enzymechallenge mentioned above, crowdsourcing a solution is about effectivelyengaging and fostering a broader community of people to solve tough, interestingor even fun challenges - whether those challenges are presented by us or othersin the industry.
How can a CIO use crowdsourcing to increase innovation?
 Understanding the myriad of crowdsourcing services available is just the tip of theiceberg. Crowdsourcing simplifies certain parts of a process - similar to how cloudcomputing pushes certain responsibilities to a specialized provider - but with that
simplicity there’s a cost.
Not everything fits the model. In the cloud development
space specifically, there’s a certain type of project that fits and a certain way to
define that project in a digestible way. Here are a few recommendations on howto use this new model effectively:
Look for the Long-tail
 
 
o
 
Non-core elements of a project or bite-sized additions that wouldhave a significant impact are great opportunities for crowdsourcing.For one custo
mer that we’re working with on a large sales process
transformation, we used CloudSpokes to crowdsource aSalesLeadership Dashboard.During the project, the customer had an ideathat a leaderboard would encourage adoption by appealing to thenatural competitiveness of the sales team.
This dashboard wasn’t in
the specifications for the original project but is likely to have asignificant impact on adoption.
Crowdsource Creativity
 
o
 
Certain problems, by their very nature, can be solved in a number of 
ways, but it’s the creativity of that solution that will separate success
from failure. Unliketraditional waterfall build and iterate projects (some of which never come to fruition), crowdsourcing seeksmultiple solutions to a given problem instead of just oneinterpretation. For example, creating engaging mobile and socialapps requires creative thinking and new ideas in order to achieve thebest user experience. This is why Appirio turned to CloudSpokes tocrowdsource the 2011 Dreamforce Mobile Party App which was used by 10K+ attendees at Dreamforce. 
When the "Whole > Sum + of + Parts
 
o
 
We’ve seen our share of technology projects which would be a
fantastic fit for crowdsourcing, but not in their traditional framing.
o
 
Certain projects can be broken down into a handful of key piecesthat when slotted together complete a much larger puzzle. With theright guidance, we've helped a few clients deconstruct a problem andcrowdsource the solutions.

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