What are the chances that crowdsourcing will be used by mainstream business?
Will crowdsourcing be soon be used by mainstream businesses? There have been a couple of projects that I am aware of: DARPA and Wikipedia being the main ones. Is there a future for crowdsourcing as a tool for small to medium sized businesses?
I think it really depends on the business. I doubt many will have the expertise with it to achieve much in the short term. Here's an interesting article that covers crowdsourcing for small business though, you might find it interesting.
"Crowdsourcing is a relatively new idea thatsmall businesses can use to solve a problem orimprove their business. This process takes atask usually done by individuals to a group of people or community for their input. Here aresome benefits and ideas to implementcrowdsourcing for your business"
I suppose Wikipedia is a good example of crowdsourcing, since it depends on the work of an essentially unlimited pool of individuals voluntarily adding/editing data for the company, but when I think of crowdsourcing I think of dispersed individuals utilizing computing power for a remote entity. There has been one outstanding use of crowdsourcing as I think of it that comes to mind; SETI (Search for Extra Terrestrial Life). People basically installed a screen saver that used their PC to analyze mountains of data that have been broken down into smaller chunks. It has worked well for many years now, and the amount of free computing power that the researchers at SETI gain access to is pretty amazing. I suppose that there could be some debate whether this is distributed computing or crowddsourcing, but to me they are essentially the same thing.
I can only see this working for companies that have high levels of customer loyalty, so that individuals are willing to essentially give away their resources to a business that makes money of them. Apple is the only company that comes to mind that might be able to convince customers to participate. Amazon did dabble in crowdsourcing recently, although not of the distributed computing model, when it asked customer to use their smartphones to send pricing data about brick and mortar bookstores. I don't see crowdsourcing as becoming a mainstream business tool in the immediate future, though, mostly because of the unpredictability inherent in the model. I've been wrong before though!