Crowdsourcing has a number of definitions as you read the various Internet views of the potentials of this service.

From the perspective of Financial Services we, worldflow, define Crowdsourcing as the use of mass resources both internal and external to the company to provide ideas, effort or potential customers.

Utilising mass audiences to input to an idea, to add more resources or to prove and then potentially use your latest product is an obvious use of the Crowdsourcing concept.

Why don’t banks do this as a matter of policy? It is simple enough, there is a lack of understanding of the technologies involved, the internal teams working on the applications are internally focused and there is an inherent an overused security concern associated with most of the banks Internet efforts.

In order to pilot Crowdsourcing many major organisations can look internally first. In small companies, like worldflow, our first thought is to use our own resources first to test or pilot something, including all the departments we have.

When you are a multinational organisation this flexible approach seems to disappear, which eliminates a very large potential user base. In talking with some major clients, they can’t see initially how to break down the barriers to use the wider organisation. But if they were able to get past this, they have a significant user community who share the same ideals and company loyalty that they have.

It would also allow organisations to retain an element of security using the internal networks, and also confidentiality in terms of what they are doing.

In expanding to the outside world there is a serious issue, especially in today’s anti-finance climate. Why would anyone help a financial services organisation to develop further services?

Well obviously there are cost-effective ways around this that have been used by marketing companies for years.

1) The users are partaking in something revolutionary and they are the groundbreakers. Everyone else will be catching them up. Using and feeding back on mobile access services would fit well into this. Using a beta release before others is another example.

2) there is a direct incentive to the user such as the ability to get a free service once live, rewards for best performance (such as trading competitions on CFD platforms), or even a charitable donation on behalf of the individual if they partake.

3) For the greater good. Offering to expand any charity contribution through to the service actually being beneficial for emerging economies or a more green solution to financial services. worldflows’ GME solution for accessible banking for emerging economies is an example where testing and development would benefit from proof in more developed economies.

There are undoubtedly other incentives that would work, however without some form of incentive whether technical, financial or moral it is difficult to see why users would rush to sign up. Organisations need to be flexible enough to recognise this.

How Crowdsourcing could be deployed using internal or external crowds remains a key issue.

The answer is that with enough flexibility in am organisation and the capability to follow up with the community proactively this form of Resourcing can be used very effectively.

– getting feedback on ideas is straight forward. Polls can quickly be setup, and so can simple surveys. Organisations need to resist the desire to overload surveys and try and expand beyond the subject.

– collating green field ideas is a more difficult process. Original thinking is difficult in a crowd. Working through a set of ideas using combinations of polls and surveys can work, with ranked ideas within packages of similar ideas.

– testing is an underrated use of Crowdsourcing. There is a view that finance applications require expertise to test, bit are easy to use. Clearly this is a mutually exclusive argument. Testing new functionality should be very achievable, in addition to resolving the interminable performance and scaling test issues.

– manual effort can also be effectively Crowdsourced. Using teams to reconcile balance sheet changes, systems breaks, input data, do mass amends etc are all feasible. With a little imagination to obfuscate the true meaning of the data and two or even four eyes verification this type of process could be very effective.

These are generic examples of utilising the effects of crowds. One practical example worldflow were involved on for a bank was a trading competition for a CFD site. The prize was simple, an interview as a trader. The upside from the bank was the ability to add and test new products with the competitors, to volume test the system, and build up a base of potential customers for not only the trading platform but their other offerings.

The issue with Crowdsourcing is that of taking on legitimate users, and not missing the demographic or locations needed for an ideal group. This requires effective and carefully planned client take-on. Without this process to vet and manage the users, effectively log and track them, provide impetus to them during the process and track and feedback results to the users during the process they will soon lose interest. The level of MIS required both internally and externally for Crowdsourcing far exceeds that of traditional users.

With the right tools on place achieving a positive result from a Crowdsourcing, not only for the immediate exercise, but a genuine opportunity to build up a loyal set of users for future exercises and marketing initiatives.

For input on the use of Crowdsourcing and the tools required in your business don’t hesitate to contact worldflow for impartial and effective advice.