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How Crowd-Sourcing can Help Tackle the Mobile Development Talent Gap

By Steve Pruden, VP of Mobility & Crowd-sourcing, Appirio

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Steve Pruden, VP of Mobility & Crowd-sourcing, Appirio

Crowd-sourcing can be a vague term to those unfamiliar with the model. Some believe that it was first coined in a 2006 Wired article titled ‘The Rise of Crowd- sourcing’, but it’s really been around for centuries. Anytime in history where we’ve had a society, an organization or an individual tap into the collective intelligence of a crowd to get the best answer to a question or the most correct solution to a problem, they were using crowd-sourcing.

“Tapping into alternative methods of hiring freelance workers, such as enterprise crowd-sourcing, allows businesses to empower their workforce by providing supplemental skill sets”

In one of the earliest examples in 1714, the British government harnessed the power of the crowd by offering a prize for developing a reliable way to compute longitude. Today, probably the best known example of crowd-sourcing is Wikipedia, the world's 7th most visited site. The online encyclopedia works by inviting people who are knowledgeable on a particular subject to add and edit content in real-time, collaborating with people from around the world to ensure the most accurate information is delivered to readers. Wikipedia reveals that it has more than 80,000 volunteers who edit and contribute new content. The sheer size of its workforce ensures information is kept up-to-date and new content is added quickly and efficiently.

So how does this type of model for enabling innovation work in the enterprise technology space? The basic foundation for enterprise crowd-sourcing is similar to the way Wikipedia works; however, since IT goes through rapid and constant changes it also adds layers of complexity that ensure scalability, and consequently, business growth.

Once a business identifies a problem that needs a quick, innovative solution, it poses a challenge to a community board so that enterprise crowd-sourcing members can review the problem and determine if they have the right skills to participate in the challenge. The enterprise is then guided through the entire process by a project manager—a valuable community member whose role is to ensure the right project metrics are in place, and that both community member groups and customer teams are running smoothly.

This new model is necessary for businesses to respond to the demands of a growing cloud app economy. By the end of 2017, market demand for app talent services will grow at least 5 times faster than internal IT organization’s capacity to deliver them, according to Gartner. Additionally, Gartner forecasts mobile phone sales will reach 2.1 billion units by 2019, which will fuel demand for enterprise apps that match (or even surpass) the high performance and usability of consumer apps.

In spite of the apparent need for developer talent, C-level executives are having a hard time finding and keeping the right talent. A recent Appirio survey, done in partnership with Wakefield Research, finds that 90 percent of business decision makers see recruiting and retaining technology talent as a key barrier to business growth. Appirio’s report also finds that 70 percent of businesses have leveraged crowd-sourcing as a way to gain access to a flexible, agile, elastic pool of on-demand talent that might be difficult to identify, recruit, and retain.

Taking a challenge to the crowd can help an organization find the right talent at the right time; app development projects alone specifically require multiple different areas of expertise, making it difficult for companies to identify, recruit, and retain the right talent in-house. Tapping into alternative methods of hiring freelance workers, such as enterprise crowd-sourcing, allows businesses to empower their workforce by providing supplemental skill sets.

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