By Chris Barbin, CEO
Crowdsourcing is a movement. It’s one that started long before topcoder was born, but a movement and a market that we want to continue to lead.
I believe crowdsourcing changes the game in so many ways – from the way companies compete, to how people work and learn, to how the world solves problems. It’s the reason why Appirio began using the crowd the day we started the company in 2006, investing in our own platform CloudSpokes in 2011, and it’s why we acquired topcoder, the world’s top crowdsourcing community in 2013.
Since the topcoder acquisition we’ve spent a great deal of time and effort refining and integrating the crowdsourcing model, platform and topcoder community into the inner workings of our business and helping other organizations capitalize on this new way of working. We’ve made significant progress but also learned a lot along the way. I want to thank our members and our customers for all their input throughout this journey and the guidance you’ve given us to help shape the future.
If you haven’t already, I encourage you to check out our 2014 Year in Review and our community blog where we regularly announce new programs and opportunities for our members. Today, I want to talk about more forward looking plans. To highlight what we’re doing in the future to investing in the people, the platform, and the programs that will make crowdsourcing even more pervasive and enhance topcoder’s position as the largest and most prestigious development, design and data science community. I can assure you the team is burning the midnight oil to make our vision and goals a reality.
Here are some of the things we are working on, and that you can expect from us over the coming year:
A better platform and work experience for our members and customers
- Over the last year we have been moving our crowdsourcing platform off its legacy foundation to a modern, cloud-based microservices architecture. Members and customers alike have already reported substantial performance increases, but we still have more work to do.
- We recently hired Alex Castro as our Chief Technology Officer to take our enterprise crowdsourcing platform to the next level. Alex has a strong background in highly scalable, consumer grade product development. He was formerly VP of Product for Electronic Art’s cloud-based data and analytics platform, as well as a member of the Amazon Web Services (AWS) team where he led the effort to launch Amazon’s crowdsourced marketplace, Mechanical Turk. Expect Alex to become a more visible part of the topcoder community over the coming months, providing insight into platform enhancements that will help customers engage the community faster, and foster better collaboration with our members.
- Over the coming year, members can expect to see a number of new platform enhancements and features to provide you, the members, with a better experience. This includes a new dashboard page, new profiles with features to highlight what skills you have and want to pick up, as well as a new streamlined peer-review process.
More challenges to earn, learn and prove you’re the best
- We’ve heard loud and clear that you want to work with the newest technologies. Our work with SWIFT and Lightning were excellent opportunities to learn new skills, but they were just a preview of how we’re going to help you learn and earn using emerging technologies. As new languages pop up, so will challenges around them!
- We’ll be offering more types of Single Round Matches (SRM). For example, we recently ran an internal SRM for a large customers’ IT team to see how their internal experts would stack up against the community. It’s very cool to see how large customers are using the topcoder community to benchmark and inject a little competition internally.
- We’re bringing back Marathon Matches. The weekly SRMs are great and well loved, but the “just for fun” Marathon Matches are back as well, giving you more chances to compete.
More programs and opportunities for existing and new members
- Earlier this month we announced some changes to our annual tournament Topcoder Open 2015 (TCO15) to scale TCO from an event for a community of hundreds, to an event for a community of hundreds of thousands. After all, we’ll end this year at nearly 1 million members! We are poised to make more announcements on TCO15 regional events in the coming months, and we are always looking for guidance in how we can provide a better overall experience for an ever expanding community.
- We’ll continue to implement member first programs and initiatives. Programs such as our International Womens Day Spotlight series, Members of the Month, and continued skill building efforts are designed to enhance your experience, and celebrate/recognize those in the community for all to see.
- In November 2014, we launched our first Community Advisory Board. Since then we’ve met with our CAB each month. The feedback and insight those members have provided has been instrumental in fostering better communications between staff and the community. We’ll be providing CAB members early access to platform improvements and previewing new programs, as they continue to act as our “voice” of the community. Look for their reports and be sure to give them feedback in the dedicated CAB forum. In addition to interacting with CAB, you can always talk directly to us in the forums and let us know how we’re doing by completing feedback surveys.
We’ve done a lot, but we still have a lot to do for you and the customers who use this community. In the first three months of this year, we launched 1,025 challenges from organizations like NASA, Salesforce, Booz Allen Hamilton, and IBM. We’ve paid $2,270,000 to nearly a thousand members in 58 countries, and added more than 48,000 new members to community.
By the end of 2015, the community will be approaching 1 million members. We expect to have paid out close to $10 million dollars more to the community, and we’ll have even more work than ever coming through the community for our members to compete on.
With everything we are working towards, we know we aren’t flawless. Winston Churchill said “to improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.” Changing often may not be what you are used to, but it should be what you expect. It is what we owe to you because without you, the community, none of this is possible.