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Crowdsourcing workforce talent and skills

Mass collaboration can power business growth

Crowdsourcing and mass collaboration allow businesses to solve problems by tapping into new talent and skills via the Internet. This technique could enable Australia to fill many skills gaps.

An increasingly connected world creates opportunities for businesses to radically rethink how they access skills. Sourcing workers outside a company or even outside Australian borders from ‘the crowd’ is now a viable option.

As Tapscott and Williams outlined in their book Wikinomics, companies are successfully using mass collaboration to uncover new opportunities. In the case of Goldcorp, the ‘crowd’ identified more than 100 new mining targets that yielded 8 million ounces of gold.

Section 2 of Where is your next worker? examines:

  • Building a web-based workforce
  • Virtual workers online
  • Overcoming geographical isolation
  • Policy opening the way
  • Reflecting on the business opportunities
  • Case study: the Kaggle option
Crowdsourcing workforce talent and skills Get full report

Reflections on the business opportunities

  • What challenges does your organisation face that it could “throw to a crowd” to solve?
  • What types of rewards could you offer the public to solve a challenge your organisation faces?
  • What impact could using the crowd have on your investment in research and development projects?
  • How are you involving your customers in the design of new products and services?
  • What data analysis is your organisation undertaking right now that could benefit from the insights of others?

The Kaggle option

Australian start-up Kaggle has consistently proven that crowdsourcing works better than conventional problem solving.

At the time of writing, Kaggle had hosted 21 competitions to crowdsource complex data-mining problems. The company says each winning entry has outperformed existing “world’s best practice” benchmarks.
Founder and CEO Anthony Goldbloom, who previously worked for the Reserve Bank of Australia and the Australian Treasury, started Kaggle with the vision of turning data mining into a sport with prizes. Kaggle also provides a centralised clearing house for analysts to apply their expertise to a variety of problems.

Crowdsourcing taps into a fundamental survival trait: we like to compete and win. It’s being studied, adapted and used in a wide range of business practices. Presenting a problem to a wide audience exposes it to researchers who have no preconception about how to solve the problem. This maximises the chances of finding a breakthrough solution.

For instance, the world’s brightest physicists have been working for decades on solving one of the great problems of our universe: mapping dark matter. Our universe, it turns out, behaves as if it contains far more matter than we can currently observe. Recently a consortium from NASA, the European Space Agency and the Royal Astronomical Society posted the problem on Kaggle for the whole world to weigh in.

In less than a week, Martin O’Leary, a PhD student in glaciology, had crafted a solution. The solution outperformed algorithms for mapping dark matter that had been developed over a 10-year period.

Population: Where is your next worker?


 

Recruiting talent early to overcome the skills gap
Recruiting graduates early in their education will help combat the looming demographic gap as the workforce ages and retires and the number of graduates in Australia decreases.  

 

Offshoring services to support growth and competiveness
Offshoring is an option for businesses to overcome the looming skills gap as Australia as a high wage, high productivity nation cannot compete with wage costs in developing countries.

 

Skilled migrants can support business growth
Australia won’t be able to produce anywhere near the number of skilled workers needed in the future, and there is now a widening gap between global demand for our exports and immigrants to help meet that demand.

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Where is your next worker?


Video [03:35]

Where is your next worker? addresses the positive actions business and government can take to maintain momentum in the face of a looming national skills shortage

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