Challenge Cloud and Crowd

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Starting Situation

All about the iridescent concepts of “cloud” and “crowd”, novel and highly innovative production and business models for services are developing in modern businesses at the moment. With the ongoing digitalization, an overlapping information space emerged, which allows businesses to systematically integrate a wide variety of actors and activities from outside their own boundaries into the value creation process, and hence, to open up to a new quality of the environment. The IT sector, as essential enabler and forerunner at the implementation stage, is especially at the center of this development. In practice, a wide range of application possibilities exists. For example in the IT sector, modern cloud concepts could enable software solutions and computing capacity to become services that can flexibly and situationally be obtained from the cloud. External resources can now also be used for innovation processes in a new quality: Innovative contributions will be modularized and can then be assigned to the communities in the Internet or the crowd, respectively, based on the cloud. Besides innovative processes, other examples that show how the following segments of the creation of value can be made available to the outside can be found in practice. Modern platforms such as “InnoCentiv”, “Mechanical Turk”, “Clickworker”, or “TopCoder” offer crowdsourcing solutions for the various tasks and sectors. Concerning the IT sector, this already today includes a broad variety of activities, ranging from simple coding activities and software testing to more complex and highly skilled development activities.

Aim of the project

Modern cloud and crowd concepts are the center of this project and evolving into an innovative value creation system of the service industry at the moment. The aim is to determine the success factors for a sustainable design of these new organizational concepts, to develop solutions for a specific implementation with practice partners, and, based on this, to provide reference models for a wide range of users. Based on the experiences of forerunner businesses from the IT and telecommunication technology sector, this will not only present the full range of new business models and their potentials for future services, but also ask for the central challenges concerning the design, and provide practically approved solution and design concepts. The results of the project will consistently be designed in an application-oriented way and will be provided for users from practice in different forms, including reference models, design guidelines, and action brochures. To develop acceptable design concepts, a holistic approach is necessary, which not only reflects the perspectives of some users, but regards the entire interaction process of the value creation system. Therefore, the project first takes three central levels into consideration: businesses that integrate cloud and crowd solutions into their value creation process, platforms working as intermediary between businesses and the crowd, and the crowdsourcees themselves. Based on this, the perspective will be specifically expanded to the design of the customer interface – which will obtain a new reference level from the new paradigm of the cloud and the information space. The aim is to assess the new organizational concepts connected to the cloud paradigm in a multidimensional way, understanding the entire process chain of the value creation, and especially to make the connections and interactions between the different levels transparent. The group structure is reflective of this special approach. In reference to the business and practice partners, forerunner businesses from the IT and telecommunication technology sector such as SAP SE, T-Systems International GmbH, and Deutsche Telekom Kundenservice GmbH and crowd platforms such as jacando AG, testCloud GmbH, or Deutsche Crowdsourcing Verband (DCV) e.V. participate. Moreover, the cooperation with partners such as Audi AG, BMW AG, and Daimler AG allows to consider the application possibilities and design challenges of the cloud and crowd beyond the IT and telecommunication technology sector as well.

Project Partners

  • Institut für Sozialwissenschaftliche Forschung e.V. – ISF, Munich (coordination)
  • Department of Business Information Systems, University of Kassel
  • Department of Sociology, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich
  • Industriegewerkschaft Metall (IG Metall) (German Metalworkers‘ Union)
  • ver.di – Vereinte Dienstleistungsgewerkschaft (United Services Union)
  • andrena objects AG

Value and Practice Partners

  • Audi AG
  • BMW AG
  • Daimler AG
  • Deutsche Telekom Kundenservice GmbH
  • Deutscher Crowdsourcing Verband (DCV) e.V.
  • jacando AG
  • SAP SE
  • Testbirds GmbH
  • testCloud GmbH
  • T-Systems International GmbH
  • Upwork Global Inc.


The project “The Challenge of Coud and Crowd” is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research with the project lead partner PTKA (Projektträger Karlsruhe am Karlsruher Institut für Technologie/KIT) (funding code: 02K14A071).


  • Prof. Dr. Jan Marco Leimeister
  • Dr. Christoph Peters
  • Volkmar Mrass, MBA
  • David Durward, M.A.