The idea of enterprise crowdsourcing is in the air, but for now it mostly remains an elusive futuristic utopia. Yet, all the components are already there to make it a reality.
On the other hand, there are lots of people who have some free time, money, and interest to invest into a startup that they believe in. It could be just a few hours a month and a few hundred bucks, but such resources can be more than sufficient if enough people invest. For this to happen, a new conceptual, legal, and technological platform needs to be created.
State of the Art
Creation of such a platform is not a simple matter, but things are made easier by several related projects and experiences. These include:
- Open collaborative platforms / projects such as open source projects (e.g., Open Office), content communities (e.g., Wikipedia), or social games (e.g., eRepublik).
- Legal frameworks for sharing intellectual property such as open-source licenses and Creative Commons.
- Financial and investment platforms for monetary exchange between individuals and groups, such as Zopa and FriendsClear.
- Cooperative administration structures such as Scop in France.
The challenge is to put all these parts into a complete easy-to-use solution.
Such a project is best developed in the context of a commercial enterprise. The business model behind such a company could be based on a mix of:
- Startup-targeted advertisement
- Usage fees for projects that reach a certain level of maturity
- Selling the collaboration platform to existing enterprises.
It would be natural to structure such a company from the beginning in the spirit of what it is trying to achieve, i.e., by inviting as many members as efficient to contribute to the project. Since the right platform is not available at this time, the openness of the project from the beginning will have to be limited but can increase in phases as the platform is developed.
Community Enterprise would do for time investment what microfinancing did for monetary investment.
In addition to the resource aspect, crowdsourcing can add the extra dimension of "the wisdom of the crowds". Finally, a Community Enterprise would naturally tend to be more democratic and agile than the traditional enterprise structures.