Meet the MicroWorkforce
The remote resourcing of workers goes by many names: outsourcing, off-shoring, crowdsourcing, the human cloud, microwork. Outsourcing your workforce tasks and activities saves money and time. But the real news story is that the micro workforce business is big and growing over 8% per year.
The Bloomberg micro workforce article reviews the process of "using the Internet to find workers around the world for short-term projects that can pay a few bucks to hundreds of dollars per hour. The tasks might require a few minutes or a few days to complete. Benefits to companies include finding large numbers of workers to complete projects quickly, finding niche expertise, saving money, and making better use of in-house resources. It also lets Western workers, in places with a high cost of living, compete directly with those in developing markets. For many freelancers, microwork gives them unprecedented flexibility to work almost anywhere at any time."
The Special Report includes an interesting case study of how Pfizer structured an out-sourcing function for busy professionals, called PfizerWorks - an on-demand support program to farm out non-core tasks, such as data checking and market research to out-sourcing companies.
"Pfizer now lets [employees] punt those tedious and time-consuming tasks to India with the click of a button. PfizerWorks, launched early last year, permits some 4,000 employees to pass off parts of their job to outsiders. You might call it personal outsourcing. With workers in India handling everything from basic market research projects to presentations, professionals can focus on higher-value work. "
Now that's awesome. As a project management professional, I know that the key to high-level productivity is to delegate and schedule well defined tasks so that the PM can complete targeted milestones quickly and efficiently. What a great business model. Many of these sites specialize in sourcing highly technical subject mater experts, testers, consultants, and thought leaders to assist and support your company's need to ramp up and down in a project as required by the life cycle of a project or product.
I read Tim Ferris's account of out-sourcing in his book The 4-Hour Workweek. Tim introduces solo-entrepreneurs to the wisdom of hiring virtual assistants to save time and and reduce your overall project or product costs. He describes transactions with small, yet reliable micro worker companies, such Brickwork India and Your Man In India. He out-sourced assignments such as email management, website design and programming, analysis report and slide presentation preparation, website management. It's a great book for start-ups and solo entrepreneurs in an expansion phase.
The Bloomberg magazine's coverage of the micro workforce serves as a guide for CEOs, manager, and freelance professionals to meet and network online. The Micro WorkForce slide show webpage provides a great overview of active and reliable support services. You too can source talent for your business intelligence and operational needs - accounting, video production, business plan preparation, programming, data management, data analysis, copy writing, media design, meeting transcription, manuscript editing, and more.
Below is a summary of 17 crowdsourcing websites, including 12 websites from the Bloomberg micro workforce article.
This virtual consulting firm started by a former McKinsey executive uses crowdsourced experts to create research reports for clients in banking, media, telecom, and other industries. For example, one project looked at the price elasticity of a key raw material in petrochemical products. The client paid $10,000 for a report that took two weeks. The team that delivered that report was an engagement manager with 25 years of experience in the chemical industry, along with 11 other experts.
Need a design for a logo or Web page or something else? The site 99designs is a community of more than 91,000 designers. Small businesses start a contest on 99designs, giving designers a clear outline of what they need. Designers submit work, and clients choose and pay for their favorite design. In December, 99designs paid designers $596,829. A single logo sells for $300 to $500.
Amazon Mechanical Turk
This service from Amazon (AMZN) helps businesses complete tasks online that once would have required hiring many temporary workers. Companies can hire hundreds or even thousands of workers at once on Mechanical Turk, meaning projects can often be completed in days rather than weeks. Tasks might involve identifying objects in a photo or video, transcribing audio recordings, or even translation work. Many tasks pay less than 10¢ and can be completed fairly quickly.
Workers can find a wide variety of tasks at this site, including translation, online researching, data, and writing and editing. Pay rates vary from 1¢ to $14.95 per task. Workers at this site are given Credibility scores, which CloudCrowd uses to rate the likelihood that a particular person will do quality work in the future.
In 2010, no fewer than 377,184 jobs were posted on this site. More than half the money made by workers on Elance in the third quarter of 2010 was in technology. Skills that are in high demand on the site include search-engine marketing, iPhone development, Google App Engine, HTML5, and affiliate marketing.
This site mainly connects small business clients with labor in developing countries. Jobs include everything from creating websites to writing articles. The average job is about $200. About 2.1 million professionals are registered on this site.
Gerson Lehreman Group
Gerson Lehrman Group (GLG) is the global marketplace for expertise. Since 1998, its technology-enabled platform for collaboration and consultation has helped the world's leading institutions find, engage, and manage experts across a broad range of industries and disciplines. GLG manages networks of over 275,00o Subject Matter Experts - consultants, physicians, scientists, engineers, attorneys, market researchers, and other professionals from around the world.
Leapforce At Home
Leapforce At Home Independent Agents conduct in depth internet-based research and provide information evaluation for leading companies from around the globe. Ideal candidates are self-reliant, self-motivated, are very internet savvy, have a broad range of interests and enjoy online research and evaluation. Independent agents receive competitive pay as independent contractors.
More than 20,000 independent agents work from home to staff LiveOps’ virtual call center. These workers can log on to take calls whenever they’d like, in blocks of 30 minutes. Rates for services can vary from 25¢ per minute of talk time to a base rate pay with a bonus for commission.
This microconsulting business is a large online network of professionals from all walks of life, such as physicians, electricians, and race car drivers. These folks set their own rates, usually $250 to $500 per hour. Investors, lawyers, and others arrange short telephone calls with a specific expert when they need a question answered.
"Ray Grainger, a former partner at Accenture (ACN), says freelancers who specialize in niche skills are able to find higher-paying work in the U.S. He created Mavenlink, an online workspace for independent workers so they can easily collaborate with others, keep track of multiple projects, and network with other high-level professionals."
www.microworkers.comMicroworkers is an innovative, International online platform that connects Employers and Workers from around the world. Our unique approach guarantee Employers that a task paid is a task successfully done, while at the same time guaranteeing Workers that a job completed is a job paid. Just as its name suggest, the tasks assigned to Workers and paid for by Employers are simple and quick, mostly completed in a few minutes, thus, are called “micro jobs”. These tasks include simple sign-ups, social bookmarking tasks, forum participation, website visits, rating videos or articles, voting up contest entries, adding comments, suggesting leads, creating backlinks, writing reviews or articles, downloading applications and so much more.
Hundreds of thousands of professionals, including Web developers, software programmers, graphic designers, writers, customer service reps, and virtual assistants, offer services on oDesk. Each month, companies post about $65 million worth of jobs on the site, and the average job size is about $4,000, with an hourly rate of $8.64. I've used their services during 2010 with great results.
Ever dreamed of working for an ad agency? At Tongal, anyone can come up with ideas, shoot commercials, or create graphic designs. Such companies as Mattel (MAT), Allstate (ALL) insurance, and Benjamin Moore paints hire Tongal to create online videos. Typical projects range from $15,000 to $20,000. The process works much like a contest, except the money is divided among the top-ranking contributors to each project.
Companies that need to create more effective paid-search campaigns on Google, Yahoo!, and Bing turn to this site. In the pay-per-click model, advertisers set a fixed price they’re willing to pay for all clicks in a campaign. If the advertiser is willing to pay 80¢ for a click, and an expert can generate a click for 60¢, the expert gets to keep the 20¢ for each click generated on that keyword. To become an expert, workers need to pass an entrance exam that tests their knowledge of paid search.
Microsoft (MSFT), Google (GOOG), Intuit (INTU), and Groupon are just a few of the companies that have turned to this software testing service for help finding bugs. More than 20,000 testers in 160 countries sign on to work whenever they want, day or night. The company says top testers can make thousands of dollars per month.
This site is designed for investors, consultants, analysts, entrepreneurs, lawyers, researchers, operating managers, recruiters. Zintro connects Clients (expert-seekers) with Subject-Matter Experts for consulting engagements (ranging from one half hour phone consults to multi-month on-site engagements). I've been a member of Zintro since 2010. It is a very active inquiry generation website. The consulting fees range from $150-$300/hour.