At one time, if a business wanted to test a new piece of software or technology, that company had to rely on in-house resources or a small group of volunteers. This beta testing was helpful, but it wasn’t always successful, since testing was confined to a small, often biased, group of people.
In recent years, crowdsourcing has opened up possibilities for businesses interested in testing ideas and technology. No longer just a way to “outsource” work like web design and software development, crowdsourcing connects businesses to global networks of workers for a variety of tasks. Everything from commenting on blogs to picking up dry cleaning can be accomplished for a price, all thanks to the worldwide web.
Using crowdsourcing, small businesses can employ large numbers of beta testers for a price that doesn’t break the budget. In fact, the very concept of crowdsourcing allows businesses to post a project and choose from posted proposals, choosing only those testers that are right for a particular concept. Beta testers aren’t just for software and hardware anymore, however. Businesses have found they can pass ideas, business plans, and even websites through a large number of consumers to receive valuable feedback and insight.
“By tapping into the ‘crowd,’ SMBs can actually spur business innovation and solve tough problems and difficult issues by bringing together customers, vendors and employees or even an “unknown” online community (like the crowd) when preparing to launch new products and services,” Dieter Speidel, president and CEO of passbrains, says.
If your small business is considering crowdsourcing as a way to obtain feedback on your next project, here are a few sites that can help connect you with the testers you need.
- passbrains–Utilizing a technology called Enterprise Testforce Management, passbrains clients can access a private cloud comprised of employees, vendors, and relevant groups. passbrains’ Knowledge Centre provides micro-consulting services that let businesses run ideas and conduct problem-solving through the site. An additional feature of passbrains is its knowledge networking option, which allows businesses to network with others in similar industries to receive expert feedback.
- Idea Bounty–Creatives connect with clients to brainstorm ideas. Businesses pay only for the ideas they like in this “social think tank,” so the idea belongs to the creative until the client pays for it. Ideas are only visible to the business and the client, which prevents others from seeing and stealing them.
- TopCoder–With a community made up of hundreds of thousands of developers, designers, and algorithmists, TopCoder helps developers connect with other innovators to create products that work. At every stage of development, from concept to final testing to deployment, TopCoder encourages networking to provide businesses the resources they need.
- UserTesting.com–With a focus on end user testing, UserTesting.com allows businesses to actually watch a user test your site, expressing his or her thoughts verbally throughout the experience. Businesses will also receive a written report of any problems encountered while browsing a website or app.
Beta testing has extended far past usability of an app or website to include ideas, business concepts, and beyond. With a world of testers easily accessible through the internet, small businesses have never been closer to getting the extensive feedback they need to make a product succeed.
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