The combination of humans and software is the secret sauce for today’s on-demand economy. Artificial intelligence (AI) and advanced machine learning have made software smarter than ever, but it’s significantly limited in processing unstructured data that doesn’t fit in its pre-defined models. For example, only humans can process data that requires identifying items in a photograph or deciphering handwritten text on a receipt.

In the Uber example, the software platform tells drivers when and where to be, tracks their progress, and completes payment. The rider uses a mobile app to set the route, view the driver’s progress, and pay for the service. The app uses an API to connect the platform to riders to share, reconcile and generate dashboards of data instantaneously.

Businesses leverage the on-demand economy as their own secret ingredient to scale faster and smarter, freeing up time to focus on the big stuff. If you are thinking about using on-demand, cloud labor for your business, answer these questions first.

1. What are your pain points?

First, consider the areas of your business that you want to speed, scale or otherwise improve. Today’s on-demand workforce primarily addresses pain points in these areas of work:

  • Creative projects like advertising, online marketing and graphic design
  • Operations, such as retail intelligence for in-store display monitoring
  • Engineering work, typically software development or training
  • Data work that involves the interpretation and integration of data for quality assurance or user experience
  • Training, like when humans teach machines or proctor certification examinations

2. Do you want to manage the labor or have someone else do it?

Most on-demand options can be divided into two categories: platforms that provide either an open marketplace or a curated, privately managed workforce. In the open marketplace model, you have access to a workforce that is sometimes vetted, but to varying degrees: some test their candidates rigorously while others have more lax standards…or none at all. This is an ideal workforce to tap for a one-time project, such as testing a process or gathering data sets for research.

Providers in the privately managed workforce vet workers and take responsibility for hiring, training and managing workers. They also ensure the quality of the work. This is a better choice for enterprise companies that want to scale a core process for repetitive work that is critical to the business, to establish and test a process that will be used repeatedly, or to secure a dedicated workforce for an area of business.

3. How critical are speed, cost, accuracy and quality?

When cost and speed are most important, the open marketplace may be a good option because you can get near-immediate access to workers at a low price per task, with less time required for set up. On the flip side, you’re responsible for results and there are often very little in the way of Service Level Agreements (SLAs) or customer support.

If accuracy and quality are higher priorities, it’s worth considering a privately managed workforce that matches workers to tasks based on specific project needs and tracks the quality and speed of their work. These providers seek to be a trusted partner for their customers. For scaling a business process, this is often a far more cost-effective option in the long-run.

To learn more about how you can leverage the on-demand economy for your business, download The On-Demand Blueprint: The Essential Guidebook for Businesses Navigating the On-Demand Economy from CloudFactory today.

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