Software Development Taps The Power Of Crowds - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

12:00 AM
Sean McGrath
Sean McGrath
Event Updates
Connect Directly

Software Development Taps The Power Of Crowds

Crowdtesting lets developers get real-world feedback on applications across multiple platforms with numerous variables.

Philipp Benkler will be speaking at Interop London about Testing Apps the Crowdsourced Way. Join him to find out more about how crowdtesting works and how to integrate the method into the development process.

Interop London will take place 16 - 18 June at ExCeL London.

Find out more and register here.

Interop London

Many hands make light work. This maxim was first recorded in a 14th-century romantic poem 'Beves of Hamtoun.'

While it is not known who wrote the poem, it is guaranteed that the author was not aware that the adage would survive for centuries, and eventually be applied to the digital realm.

The concept of crowdsourcing combines this age-old principal with today's technology to enable seemingly insurmountable tasks to be completed with ease.

The use of technology-driven collective wisdom has been around as long as the Web. Sites such as Wikipedia have been using the model to curate content since 2001.

In 2005, the term 'crowdsourcing' took off and since then, has permeated almost every market and vertical imaginable.

Crowdsourced lenders and venture capitalists have reshaped their respective markets; journalists tap into the collective intelligence to source new stories; Google uses the crowd to help it tag images in order to deliver more accurate results.

It was only a matter of time before software developers looked at the crowdsourcing pie and thought, "We need a piece of that."

Crowdtesting Benefits

Software testing teams play a much more central role in the development lifecycle these days, with multiple platforms, security, accessibility, and usability all of paramount importance to an application's success.

"User satisfaction is fast becoming the number one reason for success," said Philipp Benkler, co-founder and managing director of Munich-based crowdtesting company Testbirds. "And there have never been more devices to test it on."

"Crowdtesting is a means to integrate the consumer much earlier and much more closely into the development and quality assurance process," he noted. "Whether it is to analyze prototypes or to go bug hunting, the goal should always be to create the best-possible piece of software for the user and with the user."

As software grows increasingly complex, the task of testing grows in equal measure. Below are two of the reasons businesses are turning to the crowd.


In an ideal world, the core testing team would have access to infinite resources; time to test software in every plausible environment and take into account every variable.

In the real world, this is far from possible. Even companies with almost unlimited resources such as Apple don't have the capacity to account for every variable; just take a look at what is trending on Twitter the next time a new version of iOS is released for confirmation of this fact.

Crowdsourcing has a multiplying effect on resources, allowing developers to test in a range of different environments, taking into account variables that would otherwise only be unearthed only at the point of release.

As Ovum analyst Paul Herzlich said: "If you are testing software that all kinds of strangers are going to use, then why not use a bunch of strangers to test it."


In this post-financial crisis era, IT departments are being asked to do ever more with ever less. This form of austere IT is exactly why technologies such as cloud have ballooned in recent years; the utility-like ability to pay only for what you use.

Crowdsourced testing carries similar cost benefits in that the organization only pays when valid bugs are unearthed. And because testing is carried out in parallel, and multiple times over, the development period is significantly reduced, which in turn has a positive impact on the bottom line.

Until recently, crowdtesting was the reserve of start-ups and smaller businesses, but as the benefits become more apparent, a wider range of organizations are subjecting applications to real-world conditions and embracing the power of the crowd.

Interop London logo (small)Learn more from Philipp Benkler and hear some examples and case studies for usability testing and functional testing with the help of the crowd at Interop London this June. Find out more here.

Sean McGrath is a freelance IT writer, researcher, and journalist. He has written for PC Pro, the BBC, and TechWeekEurope, and has produced content for a range of private organizations. Although he holds a first class degree in investigative journalism, his dreams of being a ... View Full Bio

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
2021 State of ITOps and SecOps Report
2021 State of ITOps and SecOps Report
This new report from InformationWeek explores what we've learned over the past year, critical trends around ITOps and SecOps, and where leaders are focusing their time and efforts to support a growing digital economy. Download it today!
InformationWeek Is Getting an Upgrade!

Find out more about our plans to improve the look, functionality, and performance of the InformationWeek site in the coming months.

Remote Work Tops SF, NYC for Most High-Paying Job Openings
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  7/20/2021
Blockchain Gets Real Across Industries
Lisa Morgan, Freelance Writer,  7/22/2021
Seeking a Competitive Edge vs. Chasing Savings in the Cloud
Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer,  7/19/2021
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Current Issue
Monitoring Critical Cloud Workloads Report
In this report, our experts will discuss how to advance your ability to monitor critical workloads as they move about the various cloud platforms in your company.
White Papers
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Sponsored Video
Flash Poll