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CloudFactory

Aug 31, 2011

Explaining CloudFactory to my mom

Mom: So what does CloudFactory actually do?

Me: CloudFactory takes care of repetitive, tedious tasks for you.

Mom: You mean it will do the laundry for me?

Me: No … Unfortunately it won’t do your household chores for you. But it is great with digital tasks or most any task that can be done on a computer. To explain it though, let’s talk instead about this morning’s butter and jam toast you’re making for the hoard of family about to wake up. And there’s a few steps to making it - like taking the bread out of the bag, toasting the bread, spreading on the butter, spreading on the jam, and don’t forget about our picky little eater, Lia, who wants the crusts cut off.

Mom: Okay... but what does this tell me about CloudFactory?

Me: CloudFactory works a lot like a real factory except all of it happens through the Internet. Assembly lines in a real factory have a number of steps in order to create a product, and in CloudFactory, a virtual assembly line splits up work into smaller task stations, some of which can be done by computers and others by real people.

Getting back to our morning toast, CloudFactory could break up the steps to make toast into stations like toasting the bread, which is being done by a toaster, kind of like how CloudFactory has computer-based robots do some tasks, then you spread on the butter and jam, which if you had a really fancy factory, you might be able to get a robot to do it too. But then you’ve got Lia’s quality check to make sure the toast is just right. This might be the hardest part to replace with a robot and really takes a human doing a simple task to correct all those mistakes robots or computers can often make. CloudFactory has a whole bunch of little Lia’s out there on the Internet to do those tasks that computers can’t quite do really well.

Mom: So you’re hiring a bunch of child labor?

Me: No! We actually believe this can be a great tool for fighting poverty, especially in the countries that come to mind with child labor.

Mom: I thought everybody was saying how any day now robots were going to take over the world?

Me: Well... Let’s just say I’m not too worried about that. Have you ever tried to get a computer to recognize a handwritten note? It’s horrible! It’s not even close. And other things like identifying what an image is, researching a flexible group of sources for something, or even just typing up what’s being said in an audio file -- all of these are easy for humans and practically impossible for computers to do well.

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Mom: And then who are all these people who are going to be doing this work?

Me: It's anyone with computer access and skills to get the current task finished. Over all, we currently have over 3,000 people who can do the CloudFactory tasks.

Mom: Woah that’s a lot of people.

Me: Yeah, and just imagine if you had a whole team of people, each making one piece of toast, how fast you could make that big stack you’re working on.

Mom: Sure, but that sounds expensive.

Me: But that’s the great part. You only are paying people per task and only when you need them, so it’s the same cost to have one person work on the huge stack of toast for the whole family as it is to have 30 people each taking less than a minute and making 1 piece of toast.

Mom: But how would I manage all those people?

Me: Well, really you could just sit back and watch CloudFactory completing the different tasks, verifying the results or toast in this case, and merging each piece back together again into one big stack of toast for you.

Mom: So can CloudFactory make the toast tomorrow?

Me: Well no, but for work on computers, its great. CloudFactory is great for all kinds of labor-intensive work like typing in forms, turning audio into text, identifying what an image is, or even more flexible tasks like doing tons of Google searches, writing stories, giving feedback, or turning piles of unknown files into a structured library of catalogued and easy to find information.

Mom: This seems like a great idea so why aren't lots of companies doing this besides CloudFactory.

Me: There are others, but what's unique about CloudFactory is that it finds the right combination of people and technology to help our clients thrive. With CloudFactory, there's no compromise between speed and accuracy.

Mom: Can I build an assembly line on my own?

Me: Probably not, someday you could, but for right now the virtual assembly (production) line building is best left for our Solutions Architect to do it for you.

Mom: Are you making it easy for them?

Me: We've got helper libraries, skeleton generators, use case examples, and a great set of screencasts to get them started in under 20 minutes.

Mom: Great. But when can I do it myself?

Me: Soon...

Mom: You look skinny. Take another piece of toast. I'm gonna make you some other food.

Me: Thanks mom.

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