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Crowdsourcing and the Future of Industry [Infographic]
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Crowdsourcing and the Future of Industry [Infographic]

The industry landscape will change drastically in the upcoming decade, leading to the emergence of novel sources of economic growth, new kinds of jobs, and different lifestyles.

That, at least, is the claim the Zurich Group, an insurance provider, made in a recently released infographic. The graphic, titled 'Navigating the Future of Industry,' shows some of the current trends that will influence “the next decade of America’s economic evolution.”

- 3D Printing and Crowdsourcing: A Match Made in Heaven? 

Crowdsourcing figures to mesh well with the emerging industries that Zurich highlights. Take, for instance, 3D printing: Zurich claims that additive manufacturing technologies will allow production to “take place not only ‘in America’ but ‘in the home.’”

Crowdfunding and 3D printing can form a powerful combination, as we have written in the past. Aside from enabling entrepreneurs to raise money for nifty gadgets and art pieces, the fact that items can be easily customized will allow campaign owners to create truly unique backer rewards. And members of the crowd are already coming together and sharing designs for new 3D printed gadgets; sites like Thingiverse will only get bigger as the technology become more affordable and ubiquitous. Even today, companies like Shapeways are showing how to monetize crowd-driven additive manufacturing.

Another trend Zurich mentions is the migration from cities to rural areas, which will “see expansion of opportunity as new destination travel experiences focus on local strengths.” Equity crowdfunding also looks likely to bolster local economies, as mom-and-pop shops or restaurants can raise money from their devoted customers. Because localized crowdfunding is more resistant to fraud (it’s easier to conduct due diligence on a company that’s around the corner, than on one that’s two states away), many backers will be compelled to invest in their backyards rather than look at faraway firms.

The last emerging trend Zurich highlights is mobile technology and big data, focusing specifically on the medical field. Here, crowdsourcing can play a role, too, as a way to sort through terabytes of data. Meanwhile, savvy entrepreneurs (like the creators of the American Gut and uBiome Indiegogo campaigns) are already making use of citizen science and crowdfunding for medical research.

That’s not to say the outlook is all bright. Regulatory issues may hamper 3D printing, for example, when companies begin to lobby against pirating (much like Hollywood studios fight against file-sharing sites today). But it's hard to deny that there are many new exciting opportunities ahead, and crowdsourcing can play a big role in supporting the new industries.

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