Most IT in medium and large enterprises have a mix of internal resources, onsite contractors, GSI partners (often potentially a global GSI like IBM, an Indian offshore partner like Infosys and maybe a regional/specialized organization for vertical or functional expertise). As these enterprises think about how crowd can fit into this mix, here are some examples where it can fit:
- Guarding against over and under capacity in planning – planning processes are, by their nature, inexact – guessing how many internal design and development resources you will need 6 months from now is impacted by all sorts of interim happenings – the business dips a bit, profitability is challenged but a labor cost rise causing pinching of the budgets, a surge in demand for specific skillsets like mobile, etc. On top of that, agreements with contract agencies and SIs may require forecasting both skills and resource needs years out, committing IT to costs it may need to adjust up or down (preferably easily). When you do have to scale up, you also may not be able to access the skillsets you need at the level required.
- Crowdsourcing is, by its nature, an on-demand model for resourcing and skills. Work is performed by experts that self-select based on their skillsets and, because of crowdsourcing’s competitive nature, buyers only pay for the work that meets their requirements. As was the case in early discussion of internal infrastructure vs. cloud computing, it’s no longer necessary to staff to the ‘peak demand’ to make sure needs are met – instead, it is more prudent to plan for a mean level (or lower) and use crowd to as an elastic solution for staffing, derisking the IT budget significantly.
- “Pop up” skillsets – frequently IT needs surface in specific or new skillsets that are unforeseen. A field service organization wants to arm its field team with the ability to take pictures at the customer site and upload to a central site; this might create an immediate need for a designer and a mobile prototype before funding the development. Last year Apple released its Swift language, which is rapidly growing in popularity – if IT wants to shift to Swift in its current or upcoming mobile development plans, there might be a significant time lag until those skills can be mobilized
- Rather than go through a process to hire contractors or issue a change order to an SI contract, crowd based resources can easily do this sort of work quickly. Appirio’s crowd had Swift developers coding within a week of the Apple announcement and was doing customer apps soon thereafter.
- Outsourcing Acceleration – the current model for outsourcing has been in place and largely stagnant since the late 90s as offshore labor arbitrage took hold. Companies haven’t had options to change things – until now.
- Appirio is working with more than a half-dozen of the largest global SIs to build crowdsourcing into their organizations as an option for their customers. Companies should be asking their providers how they are tapping into crowdsourcing and demand many of the benefits that it brings (e.g., demand that outsourcers provide the capacity flexibility and access to pop-up skillsets).
- Providing a Spark – most of us in IT, particularly if we’ve been there a while, get used to patterns and seeing a few ways of “doing things.” That can often leave us facing the same problems in our projects or relationships with our customers and wishing we could do things differently.
- The crowd is wonderful at providing options – ideas, approaches, models, UIs, whatever – and ways of working that we haven’t thought of. By proactively harnessing that innovation as part of our IT model, we have the potential to fundamentally alter our ‘standard processes’ and mindsets.