Top 9 Advances in Crowdsourced Applications To Watch For in 2015

An edited version of this post first appeared on Virgin.

Crowdsourcing in 2014 has experienced tremendous transformations and played a major role in the convergence of technology, business, and disruptive ideas to make the world a global stage of infinite collaborations.

And we’re expecting more. What upcoming trends that rely on crowds and collaboration are ready to upstage what we’ve been used to — on a scale that is appropriate for 2015. Let’s take a look.

Peer-to-peer lending will dominate equity crowdfunding in the near term

The JOBS (Jumpstart Our Business Act) was passed in 2012 by the US Congress to help change the financial setup for startups. While regulation is still awaited, dozens of US states have implemented their own in-state regulations to fuel startups in their local economies. Worldwide, the realization that for successful equity crowdsourcing, regulators need to dot their i’s and cross their t’s is being heavily underscored. Platforms must now clarify information on the offering, educate investors, actively prevent fraud and offer clear communication channels between stakeholders. Hence hugely successful platforms like OurCrowd are offering hybrid models that bring experienced and curated investors into play who bring due diligence and confidence into the round while increasing successful raises.

But another aspect of crowd finance is gaining traction and if we take a deeper look, reasons are obvious. We are talking peer-to-peer lending that has propelled successful platforms like Lending Club and OnDeck towards an IPO. Why? Investors find it easier to understand the need for debt in comparison to speculating success of an early stage startup, they achieve returns quicker as loans get repaid faster and let’s face it — a lot more people are in debt.

Whats upcoming? 2015 will be the tipping point for crowd finance investment options to get mainstream attention from money mangers and institutions.

Crowdsourced data from connected cars will improve road safety and resource management

How great would it be to look around the corner literally? Crowdsourced data on weather, traffic, services — like Google’s Waze — is no longer a distant possibility. Life-changing technologies are being developed every year; big tech giants splurge on research development and testing — hosted by crowd data. IBM and Continental AG are collaborating on project “Connected eHorizon” where a digital net thrown over the road network enables sensors within to communicate with one another — the map data will be improved using crowdsourcing. Inrix, which collects traffic data from 185 million cars worldwide, is piloting a system that could make use of onboard sensors, cars are being fitted with these days, to take headlight, windshield wiper and traction control data and work out road conditions.

What’s upcoming? Data, data and more data. There is tremendous use for the big data coming out of connected cars. Expect to see debates and best practices on how all this data will be used, privacy concerns and safety guards for consumers, corporations and governments.

Same corporations, newer products for the crowd economy

Get ready to see fortune 500 companies come up with new offerings and products that are in sync with the new crowd-focussed economy. BMW’s DriveNow program will help you pick up a BMW electric vehicle on demand. Audi’s micro sharing plan in Sweden allows a group of three or four to choose any Audi car to share for a year or two. Using a mobile app that serves as digital dashboard, a beacon that serves as personal ID and electronic record of the car’s usage, and a billing plan that best fits the needs of the customer, people with different lives and different schedules will find it easier and effortless to share a car with their friends or co-workers. GE teamed up with Quirky to produce Aros, a Wi-Fi connected air conditioner aimed at energy-conscious consumers. IKEA even allowed guests to stay overnight at it stores in Australia, through Airbnb. Even though this was for one night only as a marketing gig, it sure gives you an idea on how your future will be transformed.

What’s upcoming? The icing on the cake in 2015 will be to see API’s from collaborative platforms added as a service layer to businesses and app developers.

Participatory medical research and diagnosis, linked with smart devices will better healthcare outcomes

Crowdsourced health studies aren’t new anymore. The concept has been around for a few years but as wearable technology and smart devices are linked to fitness and health, these studies will aid in investigation and experimentation of various diseases and medicines, shifting to personalised preventive medicines. Communities founded by CrowdMed, Patients like Me and 23andme democratize quantified health tracking and present an exciting opportunity for new breakthroughs in 2015.

Whats upcoming? Peer networks, collaboration and participatory research will improve health outcomes and bring new treatments to market faster while improving efficiencies between patients and healthcare providers. Public health monitoring like Healthmap.org will gain wider adoption.

Crowdsourced logistics is set to give you a lot more free time in 2015

Would you believe it if I said same day delivery may become the cheapest option available to you? That will soon be the case with crowdsourced delivery service like Deliv who are working to disrupt the retail business. By partnering with shopping malls and other brick and mortar retailers, Deliv is looking to provide the smart shopper with more convenient and cheaper options. And if you thought you still need to physically go to the store to get groceries, you may be wrong! If you choose Instacart, you can have your groceries delivered to your doorstep in a couple of hours! These businesses are using managed, intelligent crowdsourced labor to make lives easier for all of us. San Francisco on-demand delivery startup Postmates plans to open up its technology to third parties who can build services or products on top of its app, so websites can add a Postmates delivery option. Now all you need to figure out is what you do with all that free time.

What’s upcoming? Large retailers like Walmart are toying with the idea of turning their customers into crowd shippers, a distinct possibility in the near future.

Crowdsourced language and translation will begin to break down cultural and business barriers

Believe it or not, language translation products will directly affect you in 2015 — as an example Skype’s new translator can translate between English and Spanish and is already popular in the classroom, with teachers participating in video conferences to connect their schools to classrooms across the globe. Along with Skype’s machine powered translating capabilities, we are seeing translation applications coming through crowds. Gengo, a people-powered translation platform for over 35 languages helps corporations like TripAdvisor and Alibaba go global in addition to giving other small businesses access to international business. Duolingo a truly innovative app allows you to learn a language for free while using your interactions to translate the web! Unbabel has a unique model that combines machine translation with networked human editors, promising a faster, cheaper more accurate translation.

What’s upcoming? Businesses using translation services are going to see an uptick in modern technology supported services like multilingual sub-titling, helping them reach global communities.

Crowdsourcing set to disrupt how authors publish

Amazon is disrupting the publishing through products like Kindle Scout publishing program, which lets readers discover the next bestseller. Readers vote on their favourite excerpts from unreleased books to determine what does (and what doesn’t) get published. Readers will determine which books rise to the top of the voting pool in exchange for free book credits, but a dedicated Kindle Scout team will have the final say, choosing from a selection of the most popular titles after a 30-day open voting period to determine which ones get the final publication nod. Another program called “Write On” — is a community where readers and writers come together around the creative process to make good stories great and great stories better. How? Amazon will allow authors to publish a part of their draft and let other users comment and drop suggestions.

What’s upcoming? Obsolescence of tedius and more expensive self-publication avenues and dominance of social rankings that will dictate how well authors do.

Crowdsourcing real-time news — controlled by everyone in 2015

We know we cannot trust everything on the internet especially with developing news. Twitter, once considered a hotbed for real-time news cannot always be reliable and moreover even a false tweet lives on forever creating fodder for misinformation. But crowdsourced sites like Grasswire wants crowds to refute or corroborate breaking news often stories from eyewitnesses while displaying news that are gaining traction in real-time. Users can then collaboratively curate and fact-check content. Technology then takes over creating a self-updating, autonomous news source. Imagine the Internet collaborating to produce one giant newsroom, with a thoroughly vetted news website.

What’s upcoming? Public scrutiny and citizen policing will balloon setting a foundation for more real time reporting on corruption and other malpractices.

Crowdsourcing Cyber Security

The next security expert for enterprise system or government data will not be on the IT team. A college freshman halfway across the globe could be pointing out software vulnerability. It’s becoming easier to identify threats through new technologies as companies take advantage of crowdsourcing, machine intelligence, and cognitive/advanced analytics to detect and stay ahead of security breaches. Companies like Facebook and Google have been offering bug bounty programs for years but wide acceptance of crowdsourcing is helping smaller companies can take advantage of a wide talent pool to evaluate IT systems by offering incentives and bounties. Though risks in a crowdsourced approach to cyber security remain, many of the platforms offering this service boast stringent background requirements for their hacker communities.

What’s upcoming? Advanced secure and private technology platforms that provide a safe and private testing ground for companies while incentivizing security experts will become the norm in systems testing.

2015 will see these trends gaining mainstream traction and scaling to create economic opportunities and efficiencies for businesses, large and small like never before. Moreover we will see a plethora of employment opportunities emerge for populations connected to the Internet. In this new year, we foresee an all-round realization that connectivity and crowd intelligence are the intrinsic factors to sustained economic growth and social wellbeing.

All these trends and more will take center-stage at Crowdsourcing Week Global in Singapore, April 20–24, the meeting place for the global crowdsourcing community.

Image via Flickr