IN 2010 MUMBAI-BASED ANCHOR AND model Nazneen Batliwalla, created her profile on Balaji Telefilm’s site Soon she was hired for an entertainment show Anjaana Anjaani on Zoom TV channel, where five couples battle it out to be the choicest one in front of actors Ranbir Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra.

Twenty-six-year-old Ashish Dubey joined a Gurgaon based telecom software developer as marketing manager for Asia Pacific, from nVidia, a chip maker, where he worked at its Mumbai office as a product manager. He was hired from LinkedIn, the professional networking site. What paid off from them was not just their CVs that were diligently upgraded with each project completed, but comments from his peers and friends who duly acknowledged their work, on LinkedIn and Facebook.

In another instance, Canadian mining company Goldcorp, unable to find gold, put all its geological data online, asking for help on where the gold was located and put up $500,000 in prize money for accurate suggestions. They got submissions from people all over the world, including people using 3D computer modelling techniques. They found $3 billion worth of gold and Goldcorp became one of Canada’s biggest mining companies! At $500,000 prize money, it was the most ambitious online public help project.

Such appeals for outside help for projects and going through peer comments when hiring talent, are termed crowdsourcing. It is helping companies find solutions to problems in a democratic manner. Online crowds say what’s the best feature in a product or who is the right person for a job. Open source computer systems, such as Linux and Google’s Android, are written and refined by members of the public. Another example of such collaboration is Wikipedia, which allows users to write and edit entries for its online encyclopaedia. But now, this wave is spreading, with websites literally `employing the crowds’ to get work done or hire talent.

For talent hunt, crowdsourcing has become mainstream. It helps HR managers look for profiles, often unconventional, cross checks for references on the internet to hire talent, and dole out work for a reward. “It becomes especially important for finding out profiles if a company is based in India, but looking for people in a different country,” says Mumbai based Vikram Bharadwaj, CEO, Redileon, an executive search firm. “Though direct hiring for talent through online means is rare unless it is for a short term project,” he adds.

Crowdsourcing in a broader sense is a concept that is spawning website business models. Facebook, LinkedIn, Apnacircle, Ebay, Sourceforge, Codeplex, Innocentive, Freelancer, Yahoo, YouTube or Google Answers create millions of bytes of user generated content on the web everyday. This spans sharing opinions on new products, updating profiles or personal videos. The number of hits and comments that they generate reveals the wisdom of crowds, and hence it’s becoming the tool to gauge popularity of say, a radio jockey or to point out flaws in a product.

Wikipedia defines crowdsourcing an act of outsourcing tasks, traditionally performed to an undefined, large group of people or community, through an open call. The concept is used to solve problems, hire talent, buy products, form opinion, or offer services all of which results in traffic in cyberpsace, which directly results in revenue. Jimmy Wales’ founded Wikipedia invites millions to post a biography about an event or person. invites the open source community to develop projects. Status messages and tweets on social networks are either a reflection of one’s current mood, seek an appreciation, sympathy, or form an opinion. In simple words they offer a solution to a problem.

For non-traditional hiring too, crowdsourcing has become mainstream. Artists, freelancers, technology professionals, writers and designers do get work from the internet, by posting their profiles or  bidding for work., Rentacoder.comand sites like these thrive on individual entrepreneurship, with people whose work is recommended by `crowds’ gaining in the process. Noida based Shamit Sinha, for instance started Synapse India, which works on projects put out on Elance.comThe company garners over $4.5 million in sales.

The ways of hiring have changed. Now, if a record company wants to hire a singer in a specific genre, instead of putting out an ad or hire from a job site, the company can go directly to YouTube, select the genre, and hire seeing their work.

Kunal Gupta, director of Noida based, Mount Talent Consulting, for instance, posts his senior level IT requirements needs on chat tagline on Gmail. He is a ‘chat friend’ to a large number of technology professionals, who frequently keep on checking his tag status. It helps them to either apply or refer a friend to get a big referral bonus.

Food and beverages company PepsiCo India uses the social networking platform quite actively to get new hires. The company uses platforms like LinkedIn to start groups like `PepsiCo Jobs’ and `Women’s League’ that help in reaching out to relevant profiles online and tapping on referrals from within its employee professional networks. “A profile on a professional network not only carries the resume of the candidate but also testimonials from colleagues and bosses that highlight key strengths of the candidate,” says PepsiCo India head-talent acquisition Nagina Singh.

Taken From “ The Economic Times” 01 February 2011