The last decade has been an age of rapid expansion for information and communication technology (ICTs). ICTs no longer stay hidden in the labs of top-class universities or R&D centers of dominant companies. Now it is almost everywhere at everyone’s hands and on everyone’s desks. The Great Information and Communication Technology Revolution is taking place.
The information and communication technology industry, such as telecommunication services, internet services and ICT devices design and manufacture, has become one of the most dynamic economic sectors in many countries and a crucial growth engine for local and even the world economy. Thousands of ICT-related projects are initiated by governments, technology and academic institutions and business organizations. Just go to any news website to find new exciting ICT innovations and technology advancement keep coming out almost every day.
In the face of an unprecedented ICT revolution, we can just sit by and watch the stirring news and accept what is introduced to the market. Or, we can actually be part of the unprecedented revolution. When I say “be part of it”, I mean really be part of it. I mean the participation in those industry – shaping and world – changing ICT projects. That sounds cool, but how?
In the manufacturing sector, outsourcing is a common business practice. The engine of a Boeing 777 comes from Germany. The wing unit is manufactured in Spain. The passenger seats are made in China. Different parts of the plane are produced in different places and then shipped to the assembly plant. This outsourcing is not just the optimization of Boeing’s production process. At the same time, it’s benefiting a lot more people by creating jobs for them. The same concept can be applied to the ICT sector, too. The age of ICT outsourcing has come.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not talking about something like the outsourcing of mobile phone production or some overseas call centers. That has happened for quite a long time. The new era is about the outsourcing of fundamental ICT innovation projects. Thanks to the improved connectivity and broadband availability around the world, not only are the products of ICT innovations going to the mass, but also the innovation projects themselves are open to the mass.
Say you and your group of friends are programming geniuses, and you really want to be part of projects that make a difference. Unfortunately, you live in a small town where few technology companies or institutions have offices. Moving to a bigger city could be a solution but that’s really a tough decision. Now, the ICT outsourcing gives you and your friends an alternative. You can get work, be part of a larger ICT project in your hometown, send your work back to the corporations or institutions initiating the projects via the Internet, and you’ll get paid.
It’s great news for those technology geniuses who need an opportunity to prove themselves, isn’t it? But the power of ICT outsourcing is more than that. More people, not just techies, can be part of it. An ICT innovation project is not just about advanced technologies or complicated business and economic calculation. It can be divided into many small sub-tasks. Some of them can be fairly simple and entry-level, and some of them may even have little to do with technologies. Say you have little knowledge about technologies but you are really interested in the ICT sector from a marketing perspective. You might also have an opportunity to participate, because a project also needs someone to collect marketing data for analysis.
Some organizations are already providing agency services linking leading innovation institutions and businesses, such as the Media Lab, Telephonica and Microsoft, to people and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) around the world such as Samasource. They receive large-scale projects from giant companies like Amazon and Facebook and break it down to smaller tasks. Individuals and SMEs around the globe can choose to finish one or some of them and send their work back. After a quality check by the agent, qualified work is sent to the initiator of the projects. In 2012, about 1.2 million dollars was paid to contributors or SMEs through Samasource.
At the age of outsourcing information and communication technology, we are not just beneficiaries of the great revolution. We can be benefactors for ourselves. For individuals and small businesses who want to make a global impact, a new opportunity has arrived.