Appirio has announced CloudSpokes, an open crowdsourcing environment for enterprise. It is committing $1 million in contest funding to help seed the initiative. From the blurbs, here's how it works:
Companies who need cloud development work can sponsor a challenge on CloudSpokes, giving developers a way to earn cash rewards, and test and prove their skills for badges and other recognition.
Challenges appear on a list visible to all developer members, along with the award amount and pre-defined success criteria so all participants are aware of how they’ll be judged.
Submissions are scored by a peer review board and awarded to the best submission. Those participating in the challenge can then see other submissions and learn from their peers.
The developer members’ public profile is updated to include challenge history, recommendations, and badges building their profile inside the community and among potential employers.
Earlier today I spoke with Narinder Singh, co-founder of Appirio on this topic. The commercial motivation comes from the fact that even with hyper growth, Appirio would have difficulty competing against the major SI's like Accenture and Deloitte: "It's not a drop in the bucket when you look at the ecosystem of Accenture...Deloitte...we'll never become something that's completely disruptive unless we get out of that competition...if we can harness a global community of developers then it puts us on a very different playing field."
I wonder whether this will work because as I pointed out to Narinder, developers may be great at providing elegant code but that doesn't always translate into the best user experience. Narinder answered by saying that in creating competitions the company hopes to be in a position to offer its customers a range of options rather than THE one thing that is going to solve their problem. "We even want to run business analysis and QA contests over time...but the first move is for developers."
However, Narinder acknowledged that it is harder to reach business process experts and the like. The reasons are not clear although as I pointed out, while developers are often intensely competitive, they collaborate naturally in ways that don't often translate into other environments. That may change as more people see the value in engaging with problem solving communities.
UPDATE: I recorded my conversation with Narinder Singh which can be found here. It runs 28 minutes so I suggest putting onto your MP3 player for later enjoyment.