What Is Cloud sourcing
Over the last few years, there has been a shift towards cloud-based hosting of applications and infrastructure. It is a well-established process for a business to pass part, or even all, of its computing requirements to a cloud based supplier so that they can take advantage of the benefits. However, one of the biggest sources of outgoing for a business is staffing costs. How can the march to cloud computing technologies help to reduce those for a business?
A lot of businesses have periods when they require extra staffing for peak periods. This might be to take orders during the run-up to Christmas or to take customer enquiries after a product launch, or maybe they just want regularly updated content for their website. Instead of spending lots of money to train up permanent staff members to do that job, a lot of companies will hire temporary staff to cover that peak period. A large business might well have already looked into business process outsourcing (BPO), or even have moved that function overseas to save costs. The next evolutionary step to this process is cloudsourcing, which combines the BPO model of outsourcing business processes or services and utilizing cloud technology to find the staff to complete that process wherever they are based.
One of the oldest sites using this kind of model is Amazon’s Mechanical Turk (MTurk), where employers submit tasks that they want completing and workers from around the world complete the tasks. The majority of tasks on this site are simple jobs, such as tagging images or checking search queries, that pay a few cents each, but there are usually more involved tasks offering several dollars a time. Workers from the US and India can choose to be paid direct to their bank accounts, while workers elsewhere have to work for Amazon.com vouchers. It is straightforward to get simple and repetitive tasks completed this way, however quality control could be an issue if you want more complex tasks completing in this way.
Larger Tasks and Small Recurring Works
Freelancing sites, where workers bid to complete more complex tasks for employers are also becoming more popular. Workers can update their profile to show their qualification and employment history so that employers have more of a feel of the people who are working for them. The jobs listed on these sites are usually more complex in nature, and range from content writing and translation services, up to complete application development and support. These sites are more often suited to single pieces of work, or ongoing jobs where an employer wishes to develop a relationship with a contractor. The most popular of these sites include oDesk, Freelancer and eLance.
Entire Business Processes
For a business wishing to fully outsource an entire service, there are a number of options, but the most common of which appears to be the virtual call center. A business may want to outsource an entire business process, such as sales or support, to another business, just like in the BPO model, only the workers are not based at the BPO companies’ premises, but work from home using their internet connection to access cloud-based systems. The cloudsourcing company are responsible for staff recruitment and training and can juggle their staff between different clients to satisfy demand. Several large organizations are starting to offer this service, such as Arise and Teletech, but this is an area that is going to grow as more traditional BPO companies see it as a way of gaining new business.
Whatever your business, there is no doubt that there are benefits available to resolve short-term staffing problems through cloudsourcing. Whether you decide to fully outsource an entire business function to a cloud-based BPO company or just want some help with a little task, there are ways to leverage the technology advances to help your bottom line.
By John Barnes
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