Crowdsourcing, the pros and cons

Crowdsourcing, the pros and cons
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Crowdsourcing is “on fire” in Australia but use with caution is the advice from technology business consultancy LogicalTech.

Australia has become a “global hub for crowdsourcing” according to Cassidy Poon, national marketing manager for LogicalTech.

“In fact, crowdsourcing Down Under is on fire, with websites consistently punching above their weight and assuming market leadership in multiple crowdsourcing verticals.”

Alec Lynch, the founder and CEO of crowdsourcing platform DeisgnCrowd, says the practice has four key benefits including speed, price, and access to a large number of freelancers as well as reduced risk.

“When a business goes to an agency there is always a risk that they will get something that they don’t like,” Lynch told B&T.

“Whereas with crowdsourcing you can go back to the crowd and ask for more ideas…some crowdsourcing platforms, like ours, provide money back gurantees for clients.”

While there are positives, Poon told B&T it is important to keep in mind the downfalls of the growing crowdsourcing practice.

Those negatives include talent only being paid for the winning ideas, which Poon said undervalues freelancers.

“Does it hurt the designer who can’t get work because companies are using crowdsourcing websites to get their sites and logos made?

“Does it hurt participants of crowd sourced projects? Or does it hurt the companies or businesses that use a crowdsourcing model?

“The short answer is that it hurts everyone.”

Without the traditional client and designer interaction Poon believes a project is “just a jumbled, one-sided affair”.

“While good things can be produced from just the client’s brief, truly great things come from reciprocal relationships between a client and designer.”

The ability to tap into a large global pool of talent is a crowdsourcing drawcard, but Poon says there are risks businesses must be aware of.

“[There is] no verification that submissions are non-infringing, as a result costs/burdens associated with clearing infringement risk may be too high.”

Lynch described crowdsourcing as a new and “evolving” practice which will continue to improve.

DesignCrowd offers designers ‘participation payments’ of between $15 and $100 for taking part in projects when their work is not selected by the client.

Lynch also said a project’s budget is fixed.

“It’s not a bidding or undercutting process. We say to clients, tell us how much you can pay and we will find the best design the world has to pay for that budget. We encourage competition on creativity not cost.”

Crowdsourcing sites are also used by freelancers as business development tools for finding new clients to work with on an on-going basis, according to Lynch.

The platforms are also gaining popularity in developing economies where the fees paid for winning work and participation go a lot further than in developed.

Poon agreed that crowdsourcing could be of benefit to low-income workers in developing countries as the only criteria for employment is the ability to complete the task at hand.

“In addition, the working hours are completely flexible, allowing workers to earn money whenever they have extra time,” he said.

But he said as they are unlikely to have a computer at home they need to establish an alternative way to perform the work online.

Some crowdworking platforms have taken these issues to heart already Poon said.

“Many are starting to set minimum wages for its workers tied to the cost of living in the country they are working in.

“Each worker is assigned to a manager who watches their work and pushes suitable tasks their way, and there are opportunities to ascend the corporate ladder.”

Have you ever used a crowdsourcing platform, either as a freelancer or a client? Or do you simply have a point of view to share? Let us know by leaving a comment below. 

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