Tapping the Talent of Crowds | DCR Workforce Blog

Tapping the Talent of Crowds

When studying sociology, I used to be highly amused by the quaintly elaborate definitions it offered for normal day-to-day words like value, ridicule or crowd. To illustrate, a crowd is defined by a group of people with a common purpose or set of emotions, such as a political rally, a sports event, or during a looting (where they form a psychological crowd), or simply made up of many people going about their business in a busy area.

crowdUses of Crowdsourcing:

Crowdsourcing has taken work online and global at the same time with many intermediary websites offering to ensure the smooth flow of work and remuneration. Crowdsourcing offers improved productivity and creativity without a commensurate pressure on labor costs.  A school of thought finds crowdsourcing to be more advantageous than even the acclaimed use of contingent workers and business process outsourcing. They claim that crowdsourcing offers higher cost savings and lower ramp up time than using temporary workers from a staffing firm. Others consider it as just another option in the use of contingent workers. This method is yet to catch on in a big way, but it is time we familiarized ourselves with the details of it.

Today’s new buzzword ‘crowdsourcing’ is all about getting a large number of people to come and provide you with business insights or execute bite-size portions of large tasks, using the Web. Tasks which can get crowdsourced include data management and clean up, editing and proofreading, content for websites, translations and tagging scenes on videos and other such tasks which can be handled piecemeal without having any holistic approach to their execution. Designing logos and advertising campaigns is another area of high value where companies are using the power of crowdsourcing to gain high quality results.

Crowdsourcing helps managers to expand their access to a talent pool and gain time, scale and cost advantages over the competition through this innovative approach. Other innovative uses for crowdsourcing lie in recruiting, where an online community on social media like LinkedIn is requested to help with providing referrals; or in getting a group to come together to create a concepts  or even job descriptions. This technology-enabled method is also about drawing talented and innovative ideas from the collective intelligence of the public.

Strategic Aspects:

Some companies are making a conscious decision to add crowdsourcing to their arsenal of strategies, provided of course that they have tasks which are amenable to being crowdsourced. Staffing firms could consider adding this new tool to their repertoire of talent sourcing methods. The advantages offered by crowdsourcing as a tool:

  • Smaller organizations can use it to quickly scale up on a project and shut it down equally quickly once the goals are achieved.
  • It is very effective in seeking market information, ideas, feedback or even solutions to issues.
  • Reduction of costs is definitely an important benefit provided the quality of output stays unchanged. Crowdsourcing is an effective way to avoid assigning lowly tasks to highly paid personnel.
  • Improved ability for rapid scaling and higher capabilities resulting in quicker execution and delivery.


There are some areas of concern with the use of crowdsourcing which may be considered before adopting crowdsourcing as a tool. Doing so at the outset protects the organization’s reputation and enables the incorporation of remedial steps, through contractual and legal remedies, when drafting the proposal to assign the task. Among other things, data which is considered sensitive, restricted or private under regulatory control and confidentiality cannot be included in the assignment. Work assigned needs to be meant for individual contributors rather than members of teams, whose collaboration would be required to achieve satisfactory outcomes.

Clearly the value proposition offered by crowdsourcing is a niche area which does not offer too much competition to the sourcing of talent as a whole. Since these crowds do not constitute one’s employee pool, managing them needs different skills and abilities, demanding an ability to forge connections along with transparent and honest dealings. A well-considered approach and careful handling of the various process steps will contribute to making this a successful strategy.

The content on this blog is for informational purposes only and cannot be construed as specific legal advice or as a substitute for competent legal advice. They reflect the opinions of DCR Workforce and may not reflect the opinions of any individual attorney. Do contact an attorney for advice specific to your issue or problem.
Lalita is a people/project manager with extensive experience in operations, HCM and training and development across industries like banking, education, business consulting, BPO and information technology. She believes in a dynamic approach to life and learning as change is the only constant.