Crowdsourcing and PLM consultant’s future?

Crowdsourcing and PLM consultant’s future?


Have you heard about crowdsourcing? If not, do it quickly and now. It was coined back 6-7 years ago. Wikipedia is giving yo a good jumpstart – navigate to the following link. Here is a good wikipedia passage explaining that:

Crowdsourcing is the practice of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people, and especially from an online community, rather than from traditional employees or suppliers.[1] This process is often used to subdivide tedious work or to fund-raise startup companies and charities, and can also occur offline.[2] It combines the efforts of numerous self-identified volunteers or part-time workers, where each contributor of their own initiative adds a small portion to the greater result.

Crowdsourcing is coming in different forms. You probably heard about some of them – crowdfunding, crowdsearching, crowdvoting, crowdmanufacturing, etc. Today, internet becomes of the main driving force behind crowdsourcing activities. I just found an interesing example of new way of crowdsourcing –  it is coming to the exclusive space of analyst and consulting business. Before internet, a significant part of analysts work was to provide access to centralized industry information in a very systematic way. For the last decade this role changed – consultants and analysts are playing high profile advisory work. Sort of trusted source and security for the case of failure. You don’t need analysts and advisors to access information – for most of situations, everything is available on the internet.

My attention was caught by a very interesting article – Why This Company Is Crowdsourcing, Gamifying The World’s Most Difficult Problems. It speaks about how future crowdsourcing analytical companies will be using the army of consultants and analysts powered by internet tech and gamification engine. Here is the passage I specially like:

The biggest consultancy firms–the McKinseys and Janeses of the world–make many millions of dollars predicting the future and writing what-if reports for clients. This model is built on the idea that those companies know best–and that information and ideas should be handed down from on high.

Here is how article describes the new model created by Wikistrat company:

But one consulting house, Wikistrat, is upending the model: Instead of using a stable of in-house analysts, the company crowdsources content and pays the crowd for its time. Wikistrat’s hundreds of analysts–primarily consultants, academics, journalists, and retired military personnel–are compensated for participating in what they call “crowdsourced simulations.” In other words, make money for brainstorming.

Now, let’s talk about PLM consulting business. The existing model looks similar to how it explained in the article above. The assumption that McKinseys and other top PLM consultancy companies know the best how to transform manufacturing business using PLM strategy and technologies. There is no crowd here for the moment- big companies rule the business. Now, imagine that change – future PLM consultancy will use the power of hundreds and thousands PLM experts to provide a better prediction reports and opinion about future of PLM business as well as practical business transformation recommendation for manufacturing companies.

What is my conclusion? Disruption is coming everywhere these days. There is a potential that fundamental enterprise software consultancy business will be disrupted by crowdsourcing. Sounds weird from the beginning? For the moment advisors’ business build on top of long term relationships, understanding of company business and many other factors. However, some other technological examples in our everyday life sounded as weird as this one a decade ago. Who knows? Should I godaddy What is your take? These are just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


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  • Raymond Kurland

    Sounds good for future predictions. In fact, I have used this in the past to compare software. However, making sure a company gets and uses the software right for THEIR environment requires knowledge of how they do business coupled with the consultants ability to assist them in understanding how THEIR business might be improved. I doubt crowdXXing can accomplish this in the near future.

  • beyondplm

    Raymond, thanks for your comments! I can clearly see “prediction” as easy goal. However, many PLM deployments may have similar practices. What if “crowdsourcing” can find people that implemented similar processes for other companies and get their advise in a certain way? Best, Oleg

  • This will sound rather cynical (even for me) but the reason the McKinsey’s of the world are so heavily depended on in enterprise circles is their heavily branded reputation. Most of consulting is educated guessing in the context of relevant experience, and a season opinion is desired in advisory circles… even if it’s only an illusion.

    The old saying holds true: “No one ever got fired for hiring IBM.”

    It’s not about the quality of the advice, but rather the quality of the reputation. Such that it can be justified to act on decisions that may otherwise seem rather risky.

    The crowd-sourced alternative, while no doubt having the potential for more truth independent of software company partnerships, will struggle to satisfy the need for branded opinion that larger companies especially have grown dependent on. In the small business space, however, it’s open season.

  • beyondplm

    Ed, thanks for the insight! Actually, I’ve been hearing the famous IBM “sales speech” you quoted many times during PLM sales. You are absolutely right – PLM deals (especially large ones) are very “branded opinion” oriented and “who are you working with” decision. However, nobody said, it is forever. Brands are brining heavy $$$ many IT and big decision makers are starting to be influenced by that. It won’t happen in one day, but I can see situations where “crowdsourcing” will be considered soon as “one of the options”. It will be first sign… and it won’t happen overnight. Best, Oleg

  • Crowdsourcing clearly has a strong future. Yelp is crowdsourcing, and while there are certainly fake reviews, Yelp is extremely helpful in providing information for things that in the past were entirely word of mouth.

    What is interesting is that long term research into the work for McKinsey, Booz Allen Hamilton, and other consulting firms makes it clear that they are not reliable sources of information. A major reason is that the predictions are designed around getting business, which means jumping from one trendy bandwagon to the next. When you produce marketing and call it research, the outcome is going to be inaccurate. Lets take Accenture as an example. They are super positive on outsourcing — and surprise surprise, they have a big outsourcing business. The fact that other consultancies have large outsourcing divisions is a major reason that the appalling performance of IT outsourcing is not more widely known.

    If we look at PLM, the supposed experts in IT drive their clients to all the wrong solutions. Can IBM be objective on PLM if they own some form of PLM solution themselves? Of course they cannot.

    The only situation where centralized authority works is when that authority behaves in a transparent manner. Academic research is peer reviewed. The RAND Institute declares funding sources right at the beginning of research papers. Consumer Reports takes no advertising and publishes how it measures. However, firms like McKinsey or Booz Allen Hamilton or Gartner are not credible sources of research because they do not operate transparently and do not adhere to generally agreed to research standards. They reveal what they want to reveal and alter their findings based upon marketability. That is not research. Crowdsourcing will easily beat them.

  • beyondplm

    Shaun, thanks for your insight! I tend to agree that researches are subjective because they are often associated with other businesses. At the end analysts are paid by vendors directly or indirectly. The more successful ones know how to keep the balance to insure the trust. What I like in crowdsourcing is the ability to raise prediction level beyond the level of subjectivity of a specific analyst / adviser. Best, Oleg

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