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Crowdsourcing drives data collection for the next generation

Paul Newman Archive

In the 21st century, companies are finding more strategies for direct marketing available to them than ever before. Today's proliferation of smartphone apps and social media networks makes it easy to connect with consumers, gather their information and put it to good use, gaining a better understanding of the consuming public and finding ways to deliver them quality goods and services.

This may well be changing the way the business world operates with respect to analytics. It's never been easier to gather relevant patron information - whereas previously, data collection was a rigorous and in some cases near-impossible process, it now happens organically. Data is no longer "collected" per se. Rather, it's crowdsourced.

According to IT Business Edge, this is the way the world is moving. Data governance expert Loraine Lawson recently noted that companies are using crowdsourcing strategies to get more data, more quickly, and they're even trusting individual consumers to give them high-quality information that's more reliable than what they could collect themselves. She cited one example of a data crowdsourcing firm that secured a $12.5 million contract to extract sentiment, location, sex and other information from social media posts.

"Researchers are still exploring how effective this is against traditional methods," Lawson explained. "You can find a long list of research online about this. One emerging best practice seems to be a system of checks and validations, with higher-paid experts working at one level and volunteers or lower-compensated workers performing validations."

There will always be questions about data quality as companies explore analytics, and perhaps the buzz will become even more concerning as data from unknown outside sources becomes more commonplace. On the other hand, we may eventually enter a world in which data quality isn't just a corporate concern - it's something the entire world works collectively to cultivate.