Crowdsourcing really does get the people going and it's been on a mission to completely change the way society and businesses interact and work together. If you are unaware of the power of crowdsourcing, or have never even heard of the term before, there is a good chance you’ve participated in the process and simultaneously benefited from its effects. 

Crowdsourcing is the practice of obtaining ideas, services, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people, or more specifically, an online community. Do you remember the Pepsi Refresh Project of 2010? Pepsi awarded $20 million in grants to those promoting a new idea that could have a positive impact on their community. Take your last vacation, for instance. You probably used a website like TripAdvisor, which delivers accurate and reliable crowdsourced information, to find the best-priced flights as well as the highest-rated accommodations. Crowdsourcing helps companies find better solutions to difficult problems, leading to better-informed decision-making, and higher quality innovation. 

How crowdsourcing affects the business world

Manufacturers predict that in 2019 alone, over 75 percent of consumer goods will contain innovation and development capabilities derived from the practice of crowdsourcing. Crowdsourcing has, in fact, changed the way businesses operate, by putting them more in touch with a consumer’s actual needs. In our everyday lives, we are constantly confronted with crowdsourcing efforts in a multitude of ways. TripAdvisor, from the earlier example, is 100 percent dependent on ratings and recommendations accumulated from anyone around the world. The company gravitated away from once being completely centered around expert opinions and shifted toward crowdsourced reviews from anyone around the world, which proved to be its most successful tactic. 

Similarly, we have all depended on a quick Wikipedia search to answer our most pressing questions on, well, basically anything. The website has been noted as the “father of internet crowdsourcing,” launching its collaborative encyclopedia, a fancier term for a crowdsourced search engine. Moreover, a platform like Amazon Mechanical Turk acts as an additional example of crowdsourcing but in a slightly different way. It provides a marketplace that makes it easier for businesses and individuals to outsource their processes and jobs to a virtual workforce. 

Ferguson Business Crowdsource A man walks past a painted and boarded up exterior of a business in Ferguson, Missouri, Dec. 3, 2014. Many family-run local businesses turned to crowdsourcing to help fund repairs to fix damage incurred during violent protests. Photo: Reuters/Jim Young

Where is crowdsourcing heading?

Like it or not, we have all experienced crowdsourcing efforts in one way or another.  As crowdsourcing becomes more tailored to the individual, a new practice of personalized crowdsourcing is gaining attention. The difference between crowdsourcing and personalized crowdsourcing is that crowdsourcing involves obtaining ideas or services from a large group of people, to either solve a problem, or receive reliable information based on the input from a wide selection of people. However, this new personalization component takes it a step further by filtering content to what a person and/or business is exactly looking for -- i t's crowdsourcing as you know it, but with the option to dive deep into the crowd and find people that are similar to you to chat with and ensure that your decision, whether it be what hotel to stay at, which restaurant to try, or what car to buy, is as accurate as can be.  

Technological advances will allow for crowdsourced information to be easily accessed and sifted through to match users based on common interests in order to receive the most relevant and helpful information. Personalized crowdsourcing will allow people to chat with others similar to them about a trip, hotel or restaurant.

In the future, crowdsourcing will go beyond sites like TripAdvisor, as currently some ratings and reviews accessed on these sites do not apply to all users, due to a simple difference in taste, or because they belong to unrelated demographic groups (i.e. age, sex, or nationality). For example: A 60-year-old man’s 5-star rating of a resort might not apply to a group of college students looking for something with a different tempo. 

Crowdsourcing has been a very powerful tool in the business world, and thus has been adopted by many companies with a return of great success, as there is no better intel than what comes from the customers themselves. The future of crowdsourcing has arrived as personalized crowdsourcing has clearly become an established practice. Currently, it's heading down a path of connectivity within the community, and that will be the real turning point in the entire process. It will be interesting to see how personal crowdsourcing will continue to develop in the digital age that we are currently living in.

Omer Efrati is CEO of ZECAR , a social platform that uses advanced technology to match car owners and lets them connect in real time to receive first-hand knowledge about any car-related inquiry.