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Smartsheet‘s business collaboration tool just got a little smarter with a new feature called Smartsourcing, which lets companies outsource tasks in Smartsheet through Amazon’s Mechanical Turk.

This is a cool idea. Most collaborative business software, such as Jive Software‘s Clearspace, focuses either on collaboration within the organization, or with customers. [Update: And with partners, as someone from Jive reminds me in the comments.] But outsourcing is increasingly important, especially given the current economic environment. That’s where Smartsourcing comes in, and it also seems like a good fit for Smartsheet’s customers, 40 percent of whom describe themselves as “owner, principal, president or CEO” — in other words, the kinds of people with both the need and the authority to outsource a job.

Of course, those Smartsheet customers could probably outsource directly on Mechanical Turk, which is Amazon’s solution for “crowdsourcing” tasks. But Smartsourcing integrates Mechanical Turk into your workflow, and offers an easy-to-use interface. Here’s a demo video, but basically you just create a Smartsheet (the Bellevue Wash. company’s equivalent of a spreadsheet) and identify basic information such as how many responses you’ll accept and how much you’ll pay. Then it gets sent to Mechanical Turk. Smartsourcing also makes your request anonymous, so you’re not tipping off your competitors.

Possible outsourced tasks include research, polling, transcription, and editing. In announcing the feature, founder Brent Frei describes Smartsourcing as “Smartsheet’s Viagra moment,” which is both ridiculous and not-entirely-inaccurate.

The Bellevue, Wash. startup has raised more than $5.5 million in funding.


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