The Next Frontier for Mobile Apps? Global Freelancing

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By Jacob Maslow

Tired young mother working oh her laptopThe global freelancing has actually been quite stagnant recently. The big leaps in this space can be summed up in two websites: Odesk and Fiverr. While these two freelancing platforms may look very different from each other, at their core, they’re actually very similar. They both use the same centralized model: Freelancers and customers looking to use the services of freelancers go to a website, look through selections, either make a bid or make a selection, and the deal is done. Pretty straightforward and simple. The big innovation by Odesk of course is to add time-based charging mechanisms. The big benefit Fiverr brings to the table is to offer fixed outsourced modules of labor or finished products for buyers.
There’s a lot to be desired from these models. They’re basically just warmed overversions of the standard freelancing model which is an exchange. People go to a website, look at the listing, and then make a bid and buy. Pretty straightforward. Not much has changed.

I truly believe that one key area where freelancing exchange platforms can fundamentally be transformed is through incorporating mobile app technology. Considering the amount of workspace involved, I suspect that this idea would only apply to tablets. Still, wouldn’t it be amazing if the total market of freelancers explodes by a factor of ten by simply turning millions of mobile tablets out there into freelance microtask platforms? What I mean by this is that anybody with a tablet on all four corners of the world who has an Internet connection can easily become a freelancer. All they need to do is click an app button and there would be a microtasklist given to them. This task has to be very bite-size. It has to be very simple, very straightforward, and doesn’t require a lot of technical or specialized skills. There are many types of freelance programs that would fit squarely within these parameters.

Regardless, by tapping into that huge distributed network of freelancers who would be willing, eager, and able to sell a couple of minutes of their time, global businesses can benefit. How? They can dramatically reduce their costs because they can chop up otherwise complex or repetitive tasks into many different pieces. These pieces are very easy to do so that reduces the overall cost on the end of the freelancers. Moreover, most of these freelancers would be in the developing world so the return on effort on their part would make sense compared to freelancers located in the United States, the UK, and other developed economies.

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