The Human Cloud: Elastic Workforce in the Enterprise

Our CEO Niel Robertson (@nielr1) moderated a panel on The Human Cloud: Elastic Workforce in the Enterprise at Gigaom’s Net:Work Conference. Panelists included Alex Edelstein of CloudCrowd, Sharon Chiarella of Amazon Mechanical Turk, Doron Reuveni of uTest and Maynard Webb of LiveOps.

The first question was if you’re looking at using crowdsourcing, how do you work with the customer? For Maynard, it’s about delivering quality. Delivering better work than you can find elsewhere. He cited the passion people have when they can work on their own terms. LiveOps wants to deliver a career path to the people who work within LiveOps. They often see 30 percent.

For Sharon, they use a self-service marketplace. They build tools making it easier for companies to manager their workforce. For those using Mechanical Turk, they’re looking at pricing models. What they’ve also found that their biggest value is helping people to “buy time” is what they’ve learned as the marketplace has evolved.

For uTest, their workforce must be very skilled. With their range of customers, customers may not be sure how to approach their workforce. So they’ve built an onboarding process that helps accomplish this.

Niel’s next question was should crowdsourcing be anonymous? Niel has written about anonymity in crowdsourcing previously, and it’s a passionate subject for him.

Maynard strongly believes you should know who is working for you. Workers are being paid, and it should be honest and transparent. He made the analogy that LiveOps was Facebook and Mechanical Turk was Friendster.

Alex feels you don’t need to know. You don’t know the name of who built the steering wheel on your car, and you don’t need the real name of employee. Doron felt it depends on the task. All seemed to agree that your online reputation matters but weren’t in agreement if your real name mattered.

With Mechanical Turk, Sharon sees where people build a reputation based on their handle, rather than their online name. Their work affects all of their statistics, and they keep it serious.

The panel also divulged into topics related to location and quality. Sharon believes in this world there is no reason to bet on a specific country or region – people can Turk from anywhere. Maynard talked about how LiveOps has been the beneficiaries of seeing offshore work coming back on shore.

While Niel was speaking, one of the questions retweeted was about the fairness of crowdsourcing. Niel addressed this yesterday in a blog post for Gigaom asking whether crowdsourcing commoditize freelancers? Would love to hear others thoughts!

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