Today, the 13th annual Topcoder Open begins in Washington D.C. It brings together 100 finalists from the worlds of design, development and data algorithms for a three day competition celebrating the best of new era technology.
The last decade has brought unprecedented integration of technology into every part of our business and personal lives. How many seconds each day is your smartphone out of reach – a device that certainly has more power in it than all of the computing of our first mission to the moon?
Yet, for businesses, just a decade ago, the future was quite different. Executives at SAP, Oracle, Microsoft and IBM would theorize that the enterprise IT market would grow to resemble the auto market, with just a few providers and ecosystems around them. Cloud, social and mobile technology, that first touches the hands of consumers, rendered that way of thinking obsolete. These technologies made the world flat, made it possible to build technologies and companies for a fraction of cost, allowed global distribution in your first release and let the end users have a voice in what they would use and how they would use it. It let us reimagine our world.
Today, crowdsourcing, combined with the raw materials of cloud, social and mobile is allowing the same dramatic innovation to occur in how you access the talent that allows you to reimagine the future with technology. The nearly 600,000 members of the Topcoder community represent some of the best in their fields. The winners of past Topcoder Open competitions have also won at prestigious events like the Google Code Jam and Facebook Hackers Cup, and are highly sought after for employment by companies like Facebook, Google and Microsoft.
Yet, it’s not just the level of talent that makes crowdsourcing development powerful. In fact, it may not even be the most significant part of it. While great developers can be worth several times their counterparts, what is even more profound is the variance in productivity between someone who is an expert in the exact thing you are working on vs. someone who may be very smart, but is exploring your task for the first time. So much of technology creation today is about knowing what the problem is, what is out there to solve it and how to leverage all of that to create a solution. By tapping into crowdsourcing properly, you have the ability to get the best experience for every task.
We all know power of communities in technology. We are exposed to it daily – the open source community has created the world’s most used database (MySQL) and server operating system (Linux), Apple redefined industries it had no experience in through their developer community, and social technology helped galvanize real world movements. Leadership in these communities is seldom based on popularity, but instead on the ability to drive results. The Topcoder Open allows leading experts to become leaders in a community by way of example, through their excellence in their craft. In a world too often swayed by interviews, press releases, ads and gimmicks, the clarity of that excellence is something to celebrate. So congratulations to all or the members who have made it to the Topcoder Open this year and thank you for showing us what it means to be great.
The accessibility of technology and talent described here allows us to tackle challenges that once were the domain only of nations. Yet, how to discover and approach the world with the right questions through the right lens remains critical. Because of this need, the Topcoder Open includes an Innovation Summit that collaboratively brings together a wide range of thinkers, inventors and pioneers in medicine, research, technology and education to explore new ways of looking at the big problems. By getting hands on with innovation, we hope to inspire businesses and beyond to reimagine their companies and their world.
The finals of the 2013 Topcoder Open can be watched Wednesday at 12:30 EST live via webcast here.
Follow the results and daily updates from the 2013 Topcoder Open on twitter.