Tag Archives: Crowdsourcing

BELLINGCAT: SOLVING WORLD’S INJUSTICES VIA CROWD-SOURCING


Where traditional spy agencies like the CIA, MI6 and Interpol fail to identify and answer global criminal cases, a new independent investigative journalism platform has been created that utilizes crowd-sourcing in order to solve these cases. Sounds almost superhero-like, doesn’t it? Well, Bellingcat might just be the ‘crime-solver’ the world was actually looking for.

The business model

Bellingcat identifies itself as “the home of online investigation”, as it uses open source initiatives and social media in order to investigate criminal activities and conflicts around the world. By bringing together professionals and volunteers, Bellingcat provides a platform where these injustices can be tackled collectively. (Bellingcat, n.a.) The collective approach to problem-solving can be traced back within the name. “Belling the cat” stems from a tale about a group of mice deciding that the best way to protect themselves from a cat is to place a bell around the cat’s neck, but are then unable to find a volunteer to attach the bell. “Therefore, we are the mice”, according to founder and CEO Elliot Higgins. (Doward, 2018)

The concept started out as a hobby by British journalist Eliot Higgins, once a college drop-out from his study Media Technology at Southampton University. Initially, he started writing blogs on conflicts, such as in Libya, under the pseudonym of Brown Moses. He realized that social media content on these conflicts were being largely ignored within investigations. Therefore, he began collecting this content and combining them to make compelling cases. (Doward, 2018) Eventually in 2014, the Bellingcat platform was launched with crowdfunding help from their Kickstarter campaign. As of now, they consist of 11 full-time employees, with their head office located in Leicester. To keep the business running, paid workshops and seminars on online investigative techniques are given to create revenue and motivate individuals to contribute. Increased interest from NGO’s such as the Google Digital News Initiative and charities such as the Dutch Postcodeloterij have also provided Bellingcat with grants in order for them to expand their operations. (Matthews, 2018)

Methods, techniques and contributions

Known as OSINT (open-source intelligence), Bellingcat’s method of journalism collects data from publicly available sources to piece together, debunk or verify a story. The investigative technique involves strolling the internet and then cross-referencing social media posts, tweets, news photographs, databases, Google Street View and maps into a detailed mosaic of apparently undisputable data. (Matthews, 2018) This is done by professionals who work full-time at Bellingcat, leading these investigations and are supported by a larger group of “amateur investigators” who, from the comfort of their own homes, voluntarily perform these methods. They meet and talk in Facebook groups, subreddits and threads of direct messages on Twitter, discussing new tools and techniques and working with any changes to social networks that might help or hinder their work. “A lot of people who are involved with Bellingcat are from those communities, and have a kind of nerdy desire or obsession with problem-solving when it relates to big stories”, says Press Association social media journalist, Alastair Reid. (Chakelian, 2018)

Figure 1: OSINT Landscape by Bellingcat

Due to the large pool of volunteering contributors, the ‘Wisdom of the Crowds’ phenomenon arises, where input from a larger group results in more trustworthy answers. Bellingcat’s information has been judged watertight enough to be used by the official commission investigating the downing of MH-17 and has been cited in the United Nations as proof of Syrian war crimes (Matthews, 2018). Bellingcat contributors found photos on the internet of fourteen Russian officers posing with the alleged BUK-rocket which shot Malaysian Airline flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur out of the air near Donetsk, Ukraine (Doward, 2018). Next to that, contributors were able to pinpoint the blame for chemical weapon attacks by the Syrian regime. The latest investigation that caught the global news headlines and is still ongoing is about the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, England. Together with Russian website The Insider, Bellingcat contributors were able to identify one of the wanted men by downloading passport data of millions of Russian citizens. The suspect was found to be Anatoliy Chepiga, who is an officer from the GRU, the Russian military intelligence, being active behind the alias Ruslan Boshirov. (Doward, 2018)

Allegations, refutations and potential

Although much praise is being given to Bellingcat, also allegations and critic has been given from mainly the Russian government. Allegations vary from being accused as a CIA information warfare department to spreading fake news and illegally retrieving their information (Matthews, 2018). As mentioned, most of these allegations come from the Russian government. This is not that surprising, as many of the investigations led by Bellingcat see Russia playing a large role within the injustices (e.g. MH17, Skripal).

“When Russia started attacking our work I’d already spent two years building up a reputation. All they’ve managed to do since is to prove that whenever they end up attacking our work it’s because we end up being right about something. The more noise they make, the more truthful something appears, basically”, according to Bellingcat director Elliot Higgins (Doward, 2018). Moreover, in many of the investigations, Bellingcat is ahead of Western intelligence agencies when it comes to finding evidence due to Bellingcat’s willingness to buy information on the black market or retrieve it from pirate sites, making them better than governments at gathering information from open sources. (Matthews, 2018) Therefore, they are proving to be a highly efficient independent agency, simply leveraging the power of active member participation of a large and diverse group of contributors.

It is safe to say that Bellingcat’s potential is huge. They are still a relatively young platform, growing every day. As more volunteers join, more information will be found which will also prove to be more trustworthy. This will result in more support from NGO’s, charities and eventually official government systems. Recently, the Dutch Postcodeloterij funded them half a million euros in order to set up a new office in The Hague, the city home to the International Court of Justice (Walker, 2019). Will it just be a matter of time for Bellingcat, an open crowd-sourced investigative platform, to become the global leader in solving worldwide crime and an official authority within the constitutional state? Time will tell, but it is certain that exciting times are ahead.

Bibliography

Bellingcat, (n.a.).About”. Bellingcat.com.Retrieved from <https://www.bellingcat.com/about/&gt;.

Doward J., (2018).“How a college dropout became a champion of investigative journalism”. The Guardian. Retrieved from <https://www.theguardian.com/media/2018/sep/30/bellingcat-eliot-higgins-exposed-novichok-russian-spy-anatoliy-chepiga&gt;.

Matthews, O., (2018). “How Bellingcat outfoxes the world’s spy agencies”. The Spectator. Retrieved from <https://www.spectator.co.uk/2018/10/how-bellingcat-outfoxes-the-worlds-spy-agencies/&gt;.

Chakelian A., (2018). “What is Bellingcat? Behind the tactics revealing the Skripal suspect and Cameroon killers”. NewStatesman. Retrieved from <https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/media/2018/09/what-bellingcat-behind-tactics-revealing-skripal-suspect-and-cameroon-killers&gt;.

Walker J., (2019). “Bellingcat to establish new office in The Hague after €500,000 funding win through Dutch postcode lottery”. PressGazette. Retrieved from <https://www.pressgazette.co.uk/bellingcat-to-establish-new-office-in-the-hague-after-e500000-funding-win-through-dutch-postcode-lottery/&gt;.

Using a White Cup for Crowdsourcing: a Starbucks Initiative


As one of the leading players in coffee& snacks retail industry, Starbucks is a well- known brand all over the world today. Holding a market share of 39.8% among all coffee chains in US and 25% in the UK, the firm is the main target of competition for many rivals (Statista, 2016).  For instance, Dunkin Brands, the closest competitor of Starbucks in the US market, has a share of around 25% and many other rivals such as Costa Coffee and Tim Horton’s are closely following Starbucks in terms of share and quality (Geereddy, 2014). Within the North American coffee retail market, the players usually distinguish themselves with specialty and quality of their coffees. This is also what Starbucks had been doing by offering differentiated products such as various flavors of Brazilian, Ethiopian and Arabic coffees in their stores. High- quality service within stores had also been an area of competition among these big players for a long time until very recently. Every specialty coffee retailer in the market is characterized by having trained staff and an efficient way of serving in stores.

The event that changed the course of this game was a campaign by Starbucks in 2014. After seeing that the conventional ways of competing are not effective enough in 21st century, the firm tried and found a gap for improvement in the value they provide to their customers. Considering that coffee consumption was highest among younger generations with increasing trends in previous years (MordorIntelligence, 2018), Starbucks aimed to improve their relations with these customer segments and also benefit from their involvement with the campaign. In order to differentiate their new environment friendly cup, Starbucks decided to benefit from the wisdom of crowds and initiated a crowdsourcing campaign in US and Canada. The firm asked its customers to paint their traditional white cups with any design they want and share its picture with the #WhiteCupContest hashtag (Starbucks, 2014). The business problem in this case was Starbucks’ need for a strategy to contact its customers and run an environment friendly campaign. So, their problem was clear and structured, which enabled them to use crowdsourcing as a means of solving this (Tsekouras, 2019).

To address this problem, Starbucks announced that the winner of this contest would receive a gift card worth $300 and their design would be mass produced and sold at Starbucks stores throughout North America. Starbucks also benefitted from the terms technical and social marginality and how they interact in this project. As described by (Tsekouras, 2019), technical marginality is a solver’s self-assessed technical expertise distance from the problem field, whereas social marginality is a solver’s distance from the social group that is prevalent in the relevant field. Any customer who were confident with a decent level of drawing technique could attend the contest, so the contest only required a basic level of technical marginality. Being common people instead of designers or painters provided them a room for creativity due to high social marginality. With the combination of a basic technical and high social marginalities, the contest provided ideal circumstances for attendants in terms of creativity in crowdsourcing (Tsekouras, 2019). Knowing that most of Starbucks customers already painted their cups for fun during their store visits (Starbucks, 2014), this initiative helped the firm to positively reinforce those in store experiences.

By asking their customers to come up with a design for their white cup, Starbucks actually outsourced the task of designing the cups on their own. Since those cups were to be produced in a way that enabled up to 30 uses, their design was an important part of the initiative. People would of course prefer to use a cup for 30 times when they like its design if not for environmental reasons. Calling for creative and fun designs helped Starbucks to target young adults which represented the early adopters of specialty coffee in terms of age. People at those age usually start adopting their coffee habits, mostly with limited experience on the topic. These age groups represent “the chasm” which is the state of a customer in their journey when they are at the early stage of adopting a product. And according to (Tsekouras, 2019), customers from the chasm is a good source for new ideas to businesses that aim to conduct crowdsourcing. Even if Starbucks was not aware of this, the choice of target customers was correct for the aim of this business idea.

Bottom line: Was this an efficient idea?

As a result of this campaign, more than 4000 cup designs were shared and a 21 years old student from the University of Pittsburgh won the $300 prize. Her design was then printed on the mass produced and reusable white cups Starbucks started to manufacture the following year. The campaign has helped Starbucks to advertise their sustainability efforts with the reusable cup. Afterall, the managers were so happy with the results, they launched the campaign again in 2015 for their store employees (Starbucks, 2015). Considering the efficiency of the idea, these results should not be a surprise. For instance, the idea provided joint profitability by granting customers product utility through giving them the chance to design their daily cups in their own way, and also giving the chance to be the one whose design is used throughout US and Canada. Participating customers received the opportunity to raise their design ideas and receive $300 on top of the feeling of success. On the other end, Starbucks benefitted from advertising their sustainability efforts to the whole North American market and also fostering customer relations by listening what they had to say.

Moreover, the idea was feasible in terms of required allocations; since it did not require any internal arrangements except using their social media accounts for advertising the campaign. They were going to produce and sell reusable cups anyways, so crowdsourcing the design of the cup was actually one less expense entry from the business proposal. Starbucks also did not have any environmental bindings or expenses that would hinder the application of this idea. In fact, they have supported the feasibility of their relationships with environment- concerned social groups with the White Cup Contest. This initiative of Starbucks can be an example for many other retailers which try to incorporate their customers in certain phases of product development.

Sources:

Geereddy, N. (2014). Strategic Analysis Of Starbucks Corporation. [online] Available at: https://scholar.harvard.edu/files/nithingeereddy/files/starbucks_case_analysis.pdf [Accessed 28 Feb. 2019].

Mordorintelligence (2018). Coffee Market Analysis, Share, Size, Value | Outlook (2018-2023). [online] Mordorintelligence.com. Available at: https://www.mordorintelligence.com/industry-reports/coffee-market [Accessed 28 Feb. 2019].

Starbucks (2015). Starbucks. [online] Stories.starbucks.com. Available at: https://stories.starbucks.com/stories/2015/starbucks-white-cup-contest-exclusively-for-partners/ [Accessed 28 Feb. 2019].

Starbucks (2014). [online] Stories.starbucks.com. Available at: https://stories.starbucks.com/stories/2014/starbucks-invites-you-to-decorate-its-iconic-white-cup/ [Accessed 28 Feb. 2019].

Statista (2016). Market share of major U.S. coffee chains, 2016 | Statistic. [online] Statista. Available at: https://www.statista.com/statistics/250166/market-share-of-major-us-coffee-shops/ [Accessed 28 Feb. 2019].

Tsekouras, D. (2019). CCDC Lecture 3.

Moovit – The future of urban mobility?


By Denis Ceric, 410688

While public transport itself has not changed that much in recent years, the way in which we find information about public transport has. Here in the Netherlands, I can not imagine taking the public transport without looking at either Google Maps or 9292. However, there might soon be an addition to this small list, going by the name of Moovit.

Moovit is a “leading Mobility as a Service provider and the world’s #1 transit app” (Moovit, 2019a). Moovit combines information from public transport operators with live information gathered from their passionate user community. This user community has been dubbed the “Mooviter Community” and helps mapping and maintaining local transit information in cities that could otherwise not be served by the app (Moovit, s.d.). Moovit themselves dub this community the “Wikipedia of Transit” (Moovit, 2019a). Moovit has over 330 million users across Android, iOS and the web, their app is fully localized to 44 languages and they offer their service in over 2,700 cities across 87 countries (Moovit, 2019a). In addition to this, their community of Mooviters counts over 500,000 members, with another 150 employees working for Moovit itself (Moovit, 2019a).

Why Moovit over alternatives?

This large community is one of the largest reasons why Moovit is likely to surpass alternatives such as Google Maps on a global scale. The CEO presented that Moovit amasses up to 500 million anonymized data points a day from transit riders, which they then combine with data gathered from their Mooviter community (Moovit, 2017a). Additionally, thanks to this data, they offer precise and hyper-local transit data that allows them to provide real-time data for thousands of transit operators worldwide in cities where Google does not, such as Hong Kong, Istanbul, Madrid or even Paris (Moovit, 2017a). Next to this, where Google plots (bus) stops using official transit data, Moovit combines this data with their own technology and community of users to avoid inaccuracies (Moovit, 2017a). The community not only allows Moovit to gather the precise location of the stops where people enter, they also sends active reports about their travel experience, such as bus congestion levels, cleanliness and more (Moovit, 2017b). This combination of data leads to the following analytics:

Figure 1: Moovit Urban Mobility Analytics. Source: (Moovit, 2019b)

This provides for an easy to use app for consumers, but all this data gathered also provides a clear business case for Moovit to convince cities to support their app. With these analytics, Moovit offers cities more reliable data than traditional surveys, faster analysis, granular insights and a rich visualization (Moovit, 2019b).

The future of Moovit

All of the above has played a large in securing a total funding of $131.5 million over four funding series, including a number of notable companies such as Intel Capital and BMW i Ventures (Crunchbase, 2019). Despite such a large amount of funding, they have not gathered much revenue to this date. However, this might soon change, as the founder of the app notes that they will be switching from a focus on growth and coverage to making money through selling data (Solomon, 2018). Building on this, they have already closed deals with multiple cities in Europe and are in talks with cities in Latin America (Solomon, 2018). In addition to this, they are preparing for the future of autonomous vehicles in cities and believe that they will play an instrumental part in making cities ready for these autonomous vehicles (Solomon, 2018).

However, whether this passionate user community will remain as passionate when Moovit starts selling all of their data and becomes the Facebook of public transport has to be seen. Amidst growing privacy concerns across the globe, Moovit will have to tread carefully in order to not suffer from backlash. Moovit, however, themselves appear to be aware of this and are taking user privacy seriously. To use Moovit, you are not required to make an account, they are GDPR compliant, all data is anonymized and all analytics are anonymized as well (Meydad, 2019). As such, what the future holds for Moovit, nobody really knows. But, it does not appear as if they will be slowing down their growth as long as they continue the way they have been.

Link to theory

Looking at the four types of crowdsourcing, I argue that Moovit’s app is mostly a form of information pooling but also has some open collaboration elements (Blohm, Zogaj, Bretschneider & Leimeister, 2018). The tools provided by Moovit make it quite easy for Mooviters to provide the data required to map the public transport in a specific town or city, thereby creating quite simple tasks for the Mooviters (Blohm et al., 2018). While the end result provided by Moovit in the app is quite complex, the individual contributions of the community are not, as most data is simply gathered through the app and not much else has to be done in these cases (similar to Google Maps, a prime example of information pooling). However, as mentioned earlier, the community does provide added value by taking into account individual user contributions, such as pictures of bus stops and reports of their travel experience (Moovit, 2017b).

Looking at the recommendations of Blohm et al. (2018) for governance mechanisms for information pooling crowdsourcing platforms, Moovit follows most of them. They provide clear contribution requirements, they have a demographic-based allocation of tasks (as users map the area around them), they make use of reputation systems and framing (e.g. by recognizing extraordinary Mooviters as “Ambassadors” and providing them with goodies and opportunities to meet other ambassadors at exclusive events), and by providing tutorials (Moovit, 2018). Next to this, recommendations by Dellaert (2019) can also be found in Moovit, as the consumers of the map are often also co-producers. The increase in customers’ joint payoff at a network level is most relevant (Dellaert, 2019). The establishment of the community itself, rather than having each user of the app contribute, is an example of this. By encouraging users to join this network and become active in the network, greater utility for the total network is achieved (Dellaert, 2019).

Efficiency criteria

Lastly, I will briefly evaluate this crowdsourcing approach using the efficiency criteria. I believe the joint profitability is currently efficient, but there could be a greater recognition of their Mooviters and for the future, monetary rewards might be in place. Currently, I believe it is efficient as Moovit is not really generating any revenue so it would not make much sense to use their funding to pay their community, but once the selling of data gathered from this community is implemented throughout the platform, it would make sense to share some of this with these Mooviters, whose data is being sold.

In terms of feasibility of required reallocations, I believe it would be relatively difficult to establish the necessary institutional arrangements and institutional environment for most competitors. This is mainly due to the fact that location-based data is gathered continuously, which could lead to large privacy concerns and trust issues among users. Additionally, the largest strength of Moovit’s crowdsourcing approach now is the large network of Mooviters they have built, and the network effects that come with such a large network (in addition to the map they have built using this network). As such, this would only really be feasible for a large company with an established network and the ability to adhere to the instutional arrangements and environment, such as, for example, Google.

References

Blohm, I., Zogaj, S., Bretschneider, U. , Leimeister, J.M. (2018): How to Manage Crowdsourcing Platforms Effectively? in: California Management Review, Vol 60, Issue 2, p. 122-149, doi: 10.1177/0008125617738255

Crunchbase (2019). Moovit. Retrieved February 23, 2019 from https://www.crunchbase.com/organization/moovitapp#section-company-tech-stack-by-siftery

Dellaert, B. G. (2019). The consumer production journey: marketing to consumers as co-producers in the sharing economy. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 1-17.

Meydad, Y. (2019). Supply and demand: how data collection and analysis became the key to unlocking MaaS. Retrieved February 24, 2019 from https://www.intelligenttransport.com/transport-articles/74591/transport-data-maas-solutions/

Moovit (2017a). Moovit “Eclipses” Better-Known Services Like Google Maps. Retrieved February 23, 2019 from https://moovitapp.com/blog/moovit-versus-google/

Moovit (2017b). Moovit Press Factsheet November 2018. Retrieved February 23, 2019 from https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/c729fe_82d633f838e44572a129d75ce2e31eaa.pdf

Moovit (2018). Commuter Kate: How To Make A Difference In Your Community. Retrieved February 24, 2019 from https://moovitapp.com/blog/community-crowdsourcing/

Moovit (2019a). About. Retrieved February 23, 2019 from https://www.company.moovit.com/about

Moovit (2019b). Origin-Destination Visualizer. Retrieved February 24, 2019 from https://www.solutions.moovit.com/origin-destination-visualizer

Moovit (s.d.). Join the Mooviter Community. Retrieved February 23, 2019 from https://editor.moovitapp.com/web/community

Solomon, S. (2018). Israeli founder of Moovit app sees himself as the ‘Marco Polo of transit’. Retrieved February 24, 2019 from https://www.timesofisrael.com/israeli-founder-of-moovit-app-sees-himself-as-the-marco-polo-of-transit/

The future of auditing and market research through crowdsourcing (Business case – BeMyEye)


Context

Auditing and market research are important for companies to get an insight into how they perform in the market. When doing an audit suppliers often check if retail stores keep to the agreement which they make, such as the display of a product for instance. With market research companies gather deeper insights about costumers’ needs and preferences, to be able to make strategic decisions for the future. Although both insights are valuable for companies, these methods are not always practiced due to their high costs.

Unique proposition of the business idea

BeMyEye is a research company that offers a platform where companies can obtain street-level data from physical stores, through crowdsourcing. Within this platform, these companies, which are called the ‘clients’, offer tasks to the users of the platform. This obtained data is used the clients in various ways such as; to check whether stores are fulfilling their arrangements, how prominent their products are being displayed, how much stock there is still available from a particular product, and to collect street-level data for mapping enrichments or to identifying new opportunities for the company. This type of crowdsourcing is called information pooling. Within this type, contributions are characteristically identical and the crowd is usually asked for their opinions or to gather location-based information (Blohm, Zogaj, Bretschneider & Leimeister, 2018). This revolutionary way of auditing and market research is interesting for companies because it has a high degree of reliability and is much more efficient and cheaper than current methods. This reliability is partly obtained by deliberately allocating the tasks among a large group of people with both customers and non-customers of the product. Customers who also use the product, to which the task relates, could be positively biased when they provide the client with their perceived data, because they could be a huge fan of the brand.

Promotion video BeMyEye

BeMyEye’s business model and how it works.

BeMyeye uses a two-sided platform. On one side of the platform are the companies which offer various tasks which they call ‘clients’. Examples of well-known clients include Nestle, Samsung, Heineken, Lavazza, and Coca Cola. And on the other side are the BeMyEye app users which are called ‘the eyes’, these eyes could be described as ‘secret shoppers’. As soon as the clients need information about certain things in the market, they write a task and set a reward for completing this task. When the consumer logs in on the app on his phone, he sees where there are tasks in the vicinity of his current location and which rewards have been allocated. Assignments often include submitting photos of certain shop displays and completing a corresponding questionnaire. One of the newer tasks that can be assigned on BeMyEye is checking your brand reputation. Here, the eyes reveal the preferred brand choices and reasons of influential retail staff, such as a pharmacist, when approached by customers. When eyes start with an assignment, they check with their current location at the destination of the task as proof that they are in the right place, then they answer the questions the app asks them (O’Hear, 2018). These questions function as a step-by-step guide to be able to standardize the collation of the data which the clients receive. Fees usually vary from three to sixteen euros depending on the duration and level of difficulty of the assignment. After the assignment has been carried out, it needs to be verified, and when everything is fine, the eye will receive his reward and will be paid directly. In this way, companies can quickly obtain data from multiple geographical locations and no longer have to hire auditors who physically go to stores, which is often time-consuming and inefficient. In this way, companies can reduce their related costs, which can significantly improve their ROI for these business activities. This is an interesting concept for the eyes because they can quickly earn some extra money while already being at a certain location. BeMyEye earns money within this concept through a certain fee per completed assignment that they receive from the companies.

Appearance BeMyEye app

The rapid growth of the company and future use of their products

BeMyEyes now has more than 1.5 million active data gatherers in more than 21 countries and are currently the largest crowd of real-world data gatherers in Europe. In order to enlarge the network, BeMyEye uses an aggressive strategy to quickly obtain more data gatherers. They do this by offering people a new way to earn something in a fun way, and by acquiring similar business models that have large numbers of active users.  They started with this strategy in 2016 when they acquired Local Eyes, which was a similar French mobile crowdsourcing app. Shortly after that, they acquired other competitors such as Task360 in 2017 and Streetbee at the start of 2019 (O’Hear, 2019). With these acquisitions, they did not only take over the business models and users, but also the supporting employees, who helped the company grow even faster due to shared knowledge. These acquisitions are financed with money that the company has raised in several new financing rounds. Now, the company’s biggest focus is to maintain its market position in Europe and to enter the US market to further expand its platform (Kharpal, 2016).

Nowadays, most questions the eyes get while performing a task are easy to answer and do not require any knowledge about the products. However, the question is how far could BeMyEye go. To what extent are ‘normal’ people capable of answering questions that need a certain level of interpretation or expertise? And how can BeMyEye guarantee that the questions which are asked to the eyes are correctly interpreted?

I think this way of auditing will become the standard for consumer products in retail stores because of its efficiency and low costs.  However, it should be examined in the future to what extent ‘normal’ people can be used for these tasks, or how they possibly could be trained.

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Sources

Blohm, I., Zogaj, S., Bretschneider, U., & Leimeister, J. M. (2018). How to manage crowdsourcing platforms effectively?. California Management Review, 60(2), 122-149.

Kharpal, A. (2016, May 19). BeMyEye, an ‘Uber for mystery shoppers’ app raises $7.2M and eyes US expansion. Retrieved February 23, 2019, from https://www.cnbc.com/2016/05/19/bemyeye-an-uber-for-mystery-shoppers-app-raises-72m-and-eyes-us-expansion.html

O’Hear, S. (2018, January 16). BeMyEye, the startup that lets companies crowdsource in-store data, acquires rival Task360. Retrieved February 23, 2019, from https://techcrunch.com/2018/01/16/bemyeye-task360/?guccounter=1

O’Hear, S. (2019, January 16). BeMyEye acquires Streetbee, a Russian crowdsourcing and image recognition provider. Retrieved February 24, 2019, from https://techcrunch.com/2019/01/16/bemyeye-acquires-streetbee-a-russian-crowdsourcing-and-image-recognition-provider/

Would you mind filling out this survey?


Many of us have struggled to find participants to fill out our bachelor’s thesis/dissertation survey. I remember logging in into Facebook and finding 5 to 6 “PM’s” (private messages) A DAY from classmates that have been abusing of the CTRL+C and CTRL+V command:

Hey “name”, how are you doing?
Could you please fill out my thesis survey? It’s about 5 minutes long and it’s completely anonymous. I can fill out yours if you want 😉

Good old days…

As bizarre as it sounds, I did not ask them to fill out my thesis survey back, but this is just because the sample of my thesis was ‘manufacturing companies‘, not students, not regular people.

However, if the respondents of my thesis were regular individuals, then I would consider spamming all the contacts of my Facebook friends list. However, this comes with some cons, first and mostly, annoying your friends… But I have good news for you!

Let me introduce you to the award winning start-up project “Survey Exchange”. Even though there have been identical platforms in the past, such as http://www.survey-x-change.com, these are either shut down or do not have very good Google SEO positioning because these type of pages are usually labeled as spam. As a mater of fact, when you try to log in via Facebook, even our beloved start-up has been denied from using Zuckerberg’s APIs or the developers have messed up somewhere in the Login code.

02_errorfb

Our start-up has been operating since 2016 and has won multiple student entrepreneurship awards in the UK (Linkedin.com, 2018). As of February 16th 2018, Survey Exchange is the first result to show up when googling the search words “survey exchange” and according to its founders it has a potential market share of half million users in the UK alone (Survey Exchange, 2018), which I honestly think is a long shot, because it’s delusional to think that 100% of British students will adopt their platform before it gets shut down or labeled as spam website and get lost in Google rankings.

The dynamics of this business model are very simple yet very effective. This start-up relies on crowd-sourcing the filling of the surveys to the users of the platform in a #like4like fashion.

Like4Like is a popular hashtag on Instagram whereby users indicate their willingness to receive likes on their posts in exchange of liking other users posts back (hasthagdictionary.com, 2015). It has the same dynamics as Follow for Follow in Twitter and Sub for Sub (subscribe) in Youtube.

In this case, users of the platform have to create a free account in surveyexchange.co.uk and as the users fill out the questionnaires they will earn “Q points” based on the length of the surveys. The more surveys a user answers, the more Q points it will earn, which can be used later to request more responses for their own surveys.

maxresdefault

The revenue model of the start-up is quite simple, it generates traffic by facilitating a crowd-sourcing platform for students that need to get their surveys filled in and shows them targeted GoogleAds advertisements in its website. In addition, as it can be be inferred from their privacy agreement, the crowd-sourcing platform is also planning to sell premium services and products that will require personal information (Survey Exchange, 2018). Such products and services are likely to be purchased “Q points” so that the users will get their crowd-sourced responses without having to fill out additional surveys.

The beauty of this business model is in its simplicity. Just setting up a platform where its users generate value by crowd-sourcing their own surveys in exchange of an equal amount of commitment. This is therefore a one-way platform where the value of the network grows in a Metcalfe’s law fashion as the number of the users increases.

Metcalfe’s law states that the value of a network is proportional to the square of the users connected to the system (Wikipedia, 2018). This is related to the fact that the number of total possible survey responses ‘n’ (assuming that each user has only 1 bachelor survey) can be calculated by n(n-1), which is asymptotically proportional to n^2.

total amount of responses

If there are 2 users, that means that each user will get 1 response for their survey (you can’t answer your own survey),  totaling 2 responses [2(2-1)=2]. If there are 4 users there will be 12 responses, if there are 8 users there will be 56 responses…

However, there are some limitations with the valuation of this platform. Not all users will be willing to respond to all surveys, and some users may even have more than one survey.

Users are not expected to stay in the platform for any time longer than their thesis/dissertation data collection process and therefore the traffic of the website is not expected to grow in such exponential fashion.

There are also obvious limitations when it comes to the quality of the answers of the survey, both in terms of reliability of the answers and in terms of validity of the sample.

Users that need large amount of responses are likely to give low quality answers without actually reading the questions in order to get as many Q points as possible within the shortest amount of time.

Another concern is that the owner of the survey has 0 control about the type of person that is filling the survey as at this point the platform does not offer the possibility to filter the responses by demographics nor by other type of variable. This could lead to a very heterogeneous convenience sample that may have nothing to do with the actual focal unit of the thesis/dissertation.

Additionally, due to the nature of this platform, users may abuse of the Social Media function, which allows a user to collect Q points via responses from friends, and get the site black-listed from important websites such as Facebook or Reddit because of the amount of unsolicited requests to visit a link.

Despite all those limitations, the crowd-sourced platform seems to be doing fine as the interface of the website has improved overtime and students do not generally care about the quality of their data as long as they can get it quickly and cheap.

At the end of the day, it is better to ask the crowd to fill out your survey in a negligent way rather than faking the responses yourself and risk to get caught of committing fraud.

Let me know in the comment sections what do you think about this business model. Is it sustainable? Do you think they will shut down their website like it happened to survey-x-change.com? Do you think it will get lost in Google’s search rankings due to being labeled as a spam website? Would you use it for your own thesis?

If the answer to the last question is yes, I encourage you to not make a comment 😉

Thank you for reading!

List of References:

Linkedin.com, (2018). [online] Available at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jakub-zimola-706b01104 [Accessed 16 Feb. 2018].

Survey exchange. (2018). Survey exchange | Exchange your survey and get the right respondents. [online] Available at: http://www.surveyexchange.co.uk/ [Accessed 16 Feb. 2018].

Hashtagdictionary.com. (2018). #like4like | HashTag Dictionary. [online] Available at: http://hashtagdictionary.com/like4like/ [Accessed 16 Feb. 2018].

Surveyexchange.co.uk. (2018). Privacy Policy. [online] Available at: http://www.surveyexchange.co.uk/pdf/Privacy_policy.pdf [Accessed 16 Feb. 2018].

GE crowdsourcing platform – Let’s set the collective brain on fire!


We live in a fast-paced digital world and it can be challenging for companies to keep up with the speed of today’s ever changing digital era. However, new information technologies have also empowered more technologically savvy businesses by giving them new means to operate, promote their products and services, and engage with customers. One company that is constantly taking advantage of these new tools is General Electric (GE), an enterprise who has succeeded in part because of its willingness to take risks and embrace innovative technologies. The most recent example of this mindset is Fuse, their new open innovation platform that launched in late 2016. It is basically an open crowdsourcing platform, which allows users from all around the world to collaborate with each other and work with GE engineers to solve meaningful technical challenges.

How does Fuse work?

The first step is for the Fuse team to translate GE customers’ needs and “pain points” into projects on the Fuse platform. Whereas most projects are straightforward and thus directly released in the form of challenges, some appear to be less clear and hence are uploaded on the “Brainstorming Section” of the Fuse platform as “potential challenges”. These potential challenges include a (rather extensive) description of the problem to be tackled as well as precise requirements for the solution, and contributors are asked (1) whether they would be interested in such a challenge, and (2) what additional questions the Fuse team should answer before launching the challenge. Based on the feedback received, the Fuse team might decide on further actions. When released, each individual challenge comes with a description of the problem, clear requirements for solution submissions, judging criteria, a timeline, a description of the prizes for the winners, and the official rules of the competition (including property right issues).

Capture d_écran 2018-02-08 à 17.41.40

Example of a Fuse challenge

In a second step, contributors from all around the world are invited to submit innovative contributions. Note that even though anyone can sign up and take part in challenges, the very technical nature of the challenges serves as a skills-based filtering mechanism as only people with a certain degree of knowledge in engineering would be able to understand the challenges. Once on the Fuse platform, anyone can have access to all the relevant information related to the challenges, however only registered users are allowed to submit entries. During the whole duration of the challenge, contributors can use the discussion board to brainstorm together or ask the competition holders questions. Not only does the Fuse team rapidly answer these questions and provide regular feedback/input, but they also organize “live Q&A sessions”, during which the participants can submit questions that are answered live in a video feed.

 The final step is for the Fuse team to evaluate the submissions, select the winners (generally the three best entries) and allocate the money prizes. The interesting entries are also forwarded to GE’s technical team, where they are further developed into implementable solutions.

Efficiency Criteria

In less than two years, GE succeeded in creating an innovative community and successful products from their contributions (Picklett, 2017). This was made possible for the following reasons: combination of extrinsic and intrinsic incentives, good management, and well-structured governance including the mechanisms recommended by Blohm et al. (2018).

From a contributor’s perspective, the Fuse platform and its challenges are interesting not only because of the cash prizes, but also because it is designed towards building long-term relationships with its contributors. For instance, competition winners actually have an opportunity to further work with GE engineers on implementing their designs (Kloberdanz, 2017). In addition, there is also an attractive physical part to Fuse projects, which consists in a micro-factory in Chicago designed for rapid prototyping, small-batch manufacturing, and modular experimentation (Davis, 2017). This faculty will be open to contributors and can constitute an incentive for them to become part of the Fuse community as it is a good opportunity to bring their ideas to life, work with GE professionals, and meet like-minded innovators. Finally, the Fuse challenges are also a good opportunity for contributors to collaborate with other brilliant mind, expand their business network, build their professional reputation, and gain recognition from their peers.

From GE’s perspective, the Fuse platform is a new source of innovative and ideas, which can speed up content creation, cut R&D costs for the company, and provide GE with an opportunity to spot talents who might be valuable additions to their team. But how is GE able to overcome the challenges inherent to crowdsourcing (e.g. huge quantity, low quality, free-riding behaviour, risks of sharing information)? First, due to the technical nature of the Fuse challenges, the clearly defined guidelines provided to the participants, and the rapid feedback/additional inputs provided during the competition, GE ensures that only a manageable number entries of a certain quality are submitted, thus facilitating the evaluation process. The platform is also clear about the transfer of PI rights, which avoids troubles along the way. Second, for most challenges, challenge, entries are private and only viewable by the creator, admins, and judging panel. As a result, GE is able to avoid free-riding behaviours. However, contributors are still able to communicate with (and help) each-other via the discussion board, and the Fuse team makes sure to encourage the discussion with feedback and additional information, hence allowing contributors to still learn from each other. Finally, even though opening up GE’s internal workings/information of some products in order to run these challenges can be risky, the company acknowledges that “there are certain risks you just have to roll with if you want to make progress and that willingness to take those risks is what makes this exciting.” (Davis, 2017). This quotes shows that GE understands the need to willingly take risks in order to continuously transform the company and, so far, Fuse seems to be worth it as GE reunited more than 8000 contributor successfully implemented several ideas generated by the platform in less than a year (Davis, 2017).

In summary, the joint profitability criterion is met as the Fuse platform creates value for both GE and its contributors. Furthermore, the costs linked to this innovative business model are relatively low as the Fuse team only consists of 4 employees based in Chicago (Pickett, 2017). However, as the platform matures, hosts more challenges, and attracts more contributors one can assume that the number of employees will have to increase. Still, the costs-benefits ratio should remain interesting compared to doing everything in-house. Finally, the legal concerns are taken care of thanks to inclusion of PI agreements in the official rules of the Fuse challenges, and the social norm dimension is met as GE is a well-known, reputable brand, hence building trust with contributors.

References

Blohm, I., Zogaj, S., Bretschneider, U., & Leimeister, J. M. (2018). How to Manage Crowdsourcing Platforms Effectively?. California Management Review, 60(2), 122-149.

Davis, B. (2017). How GE is using co-creation as part of its digital transformation. Retrieved from https://econsultancy.com/blog/68902-how-ge-is-using-co-creation-as-part-of-its-digital-transformation

Fuse. (2018). Fuse Platform. Retrieved from https://www.fuse.ge.com

Kloberdanz, K. (2017). Working The Crowd: This Fuse Will Set The Collective Brain On Fire. Retrieved from: https://www.ge.com/reports/working-crowd-fuse-will-set-collective-brain-fire/

Pickett, L. (2017). GE Fuse’s open innovation platform invites NDT professionals to co-create solutions. Retrieved from https://www.qualitymag.com/articles/94304-ge-fuses-open-innovation-platform-invites-ndt-professionals-to-co-create-solutions

Skillshare: The Future Belongs to the Curious


This start-up built an alternative education system that’s poised to have a major impact on the learning landscape” (Tracy, 2017).

Skillshare, launched in April 2011 by Michael Karnjanaprakorn (Joyner, 2017), is an online learning platform where the world’s best experts teach world’s best skills. With Skillshare it is possible to learn and practice a skill by doing. You can learn a skill together with their community of over 2 million students and teachers and network with them. Classes and skills are taught by expert practitioners, which makes it possible for everybody to get unlimited access to over 14,000 classes in different categories, such as design, technology, entrepreneurship and many more (Skillshare, 2017). This start-up  uses the benefits from crowdsourcing. The crowd is used to teach other interested individuals a new skill, that are traditionally performed by a designated agent (Howe, 2006)

how-it-works

Learning should be as easy as listening to music at Spotify or watching your favorite movie on Netflix. Skillshare is really about learning by doing and every class is project-based as well. Students can create projects, alter them to the website and can get feedback from students all around the world (Skillshare, 2017). Thus, unlike other educational online platforms, you don’t need to have a Ph.D. to teach something valuable. And on the other hand, learning skills is for everyone universal accessible and relatively inexpensive. It is for everyone easy to become a lifelong learner.The mission of Skillshare is to close the professional skill gap and provide universal access to high-quality learning (Skillshare, 2017). They believe that there is a huge difference between education and learning. Skillshare empowers people to take a leap in their careers, improve their lives and pursue the work they love, by teaching skills online that are needed in tomorrow’s world. This mission directly shows the major strength of Skillshare and how they differentiate themselves from competitive education platforms. Skillshare allows everyone to sign up and teach a class. By doing this they want to provide universal access to high-quality learning.

explaoin

How it works

For the lifelong learner, Skillshare makes it possible to get universal access to high-quality learning and to learn anything they want to. They offer the possibility to watch classes, online and offline, on your own schedule, anytime and anywhere. Thus they make it possible to learn at your own pace. Furthermore, the classes are taught by an expert with experience in the field. These classes include video lessons that are relatively short with most lessons under one hour, written text. And with the project-based environment you really learn by doing and are able to share your project in the class to get feedback and collaborate with a large community (Skillshare Help, 2017). They offer their members the possibility to create projects and build a portfolio of their work. On the other hand, Skillshare makes it possible for everyone to share their knowledge in a particular field, as long as the class follows certain guidelines. The company has proven adept at acquiring experts to teach on their website (Bromwich, 2015).

Skillshare has a freemium model which allows users to access free classes, create projects and discussions within them. However, this model includes videos with advertisements. A premium model offers their users to get unlimited access to over 14,000 classes, watch them offline and ad-free (Skillshare Premium, 2017).

Efficiency criteria:

Skillshare is one of the leading educational platforms that offers everyone universal access to learn a new skill at an affordable price. The platform maximizes the joint profitability of both of the players involved (Carson et al., 1999). On one side, it is for individuals easy to reach a large audience and teach them a skill of their experience. They are not bounded by a physical location anymore and therefore can have a more efficient personal schedule. Additionally, they can earn a little to a lot.

On the other side, many individuals can learn and practice a new skill at an affordable price. At the same time, they can collaborate with a large community and get feedback from them, so that the wisdom of the crowd can be used.

Evaluating the institutional environment, the largest threat for Skillshare is that there are too many new teachers who don’t add value to the platform. However, because there are guidelines and requirements that should be met before a class can be created, this threat is limited.

Concluded, Skillshare is an online platform that offers universal access to high-quality learning at an affordable price.

References:

Bromwich, J. (2015) ‘Anyone Can Be a Teacher at Skillshare, an Online School, The New York Times, available online from: https://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/20/education/anyone-can-be-a-teacher-in-this-online-school.html?_r=0 [28 February 2017].

Carson, S. J., Devinney, T. M., Dowling, G. R., & John, G. (1999) ‘Understanding institutional designs within marketing value systems’, Journal of Marketing, 115-130.

Howe, J. (2006) ‘The rise of crowdsourcing’, Wired, 14 (6).

Joyner, A. (2017) Skillshare Takes On the Education Gap, available online from: http://www.inc.com/best-industries-2013/april-joyner/skillshare-education-gap.html [28 February 2017].

Tracy, A. (2017) Skillshare: Redesigning  Education for the Masses, available online from: http://www.inc.com/abigail-tracy/35-under-35-skillshare-online-education-platform.html [28 February 2017].

Skillshare (2017) Unlimited access to over 14,000 classes, available online from: https://www.skillshare.com/ [28 February 2017].

Skillshare Help (2017) How does Skillshare work?, available online from: https://help.skillshare.com/hc/en-us/articles/205208147-How-does-Skillshare-work- [28 February 2017].

Skillshare Premium (2017) Why Premium?, available online from: https://www.skillshare.com/premium [28 February 2017].

Mapping the Impact of Social Media for Innovation


Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Wikis, Twitter – Social media (SM) are everywhere. Those websites and applications allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content in a community setting (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010). The users are not only private people, but also companies are exploring SM as a tool for commercial success. Next to outbound marketing, SM are also applied to enhance business interactions as part of the innovation and product development process (Kenly & Poston, 2011). However, so far new product development (NPD) through social media channels can only be observed anecdotally. Specialized consultancies also jump on the train and offer their services to get a piece of the pie (Accenture Interactive, 2017). But how nourishing is this pie?

The impact of SM on innovation performance was investigated in a study by Roberts, Piller and Lüttgens (2016). The analysis of 186 companies contributed to a better understanding of the dynamics between SM activities and NPD performance. The idea to use SM for innovation and NPD purposes is not novel. However, their study reveals some surprising results:

  • Gathering information from SM channels can lead to higher performance, but only when embedded in complementary, formalized processes. A defined structure and sequence for the flow of activities provides control, helps to reduce uncertainty and mitigates risk.
  • The relationship between SM usage and innovation performance is not entirely positive. An extremely broad application of SM results in a negative performance effect for all kind of innovation projects.
  • The relationship between seeking market-related and technology-related information in the open innovation context is complementary. Leveraging this dependency has a significant positive effect on NPD performance.
  • SM is better suited for gathering need information than for accessing solution information. Depending on the information needed, the explicit SM channels (forums, social networks, blogs, wikis etc.) differ.

These findings imply the positivity of SM for a firm’s innovation performance. But I personally doubt its large-scale effectiveness. After having screened the literature for mentioned best-practice examples, there are enormous differences between companies in how they leverage and exploit benefits of SM usage for innovative efforts. The involvement of customers into new product creations for consumer goods rather resembles the characteristics of a marketing or market research tools. Haribo asked its fan base to vote on new flavors for a special edition during the 2014 soccer world cup. Home-appliances manufacturer Liebherr invited its customers to participate in a fridge-design competition. In contrast to that, I found technology-oriented companies, like NASA, or IBM in collaboration with Topcoder, to give their followers far more influential power by posting demanding challenges. This is surprising, because the study stated SM to be more suitable for gathering needs than (technical) solutions. So, is there a difference between industries concerning the successful integration of SM in NPD? Are technology companies simply more knowledgeable in utilizing SM? Or are their users simply identifying more with the product and thus engaging in NPD processes? The multitude of questions call for a further investigation of the results in relation to different industries and specific firm capabilities in dealing with SM. Hence, up to now how nourishing and likely this cake for businesses and consultancies is, might still be questionable and has to be answered for individual initiatives specifically.

 


References

Accenture Interactive (2017). Social Media: Optimization to Harness Innovation. Retrieved February 15, 2017, from https://www.accenture.com/us-en/insight-social-media-optimization-harness-innovation-summary

Kaplan, A. M., & Haenlein, M. (2010). Users of the world, unite! The challenges and opportunities of Social Media. Business horizons53(1), 59-68.

Kenly, A., & Poston, B. (2011). Social Media and Product Innovation: Early Adopters Reaping Benefits amidst Challenge and Uncertainty. In A Kalypso White Paper. Kalypso.

Roberts, D. L., Piller, F. T., & Lüttgens, D. (2016). Mapping the Impact of Social Media for Innovation: The Role of Social Media in Explaining Innovation Performance in the PDMA Comparative Performance Assessment Study. Journal of Product Innovation Management33(S1), 117-135.

MADE.com; shifting the power of creativity to consumers


“The 3 Cs of modern creativity are Community, Crowdsourcing and Co-creation”- Jon Wilkins

MADE.com , what is it?
MADE.com, located in London and launched in 2010, is a brand that designs and retails furniture online and via several showrooms across Europe. MADE.com is known by its high frequency of two releases of new collections per week and not owing their own factories. Instead, they give factories instructed to meet orders. More importantly, the most fascinating thing about MADE.com is the way they actively involve customers. (MADE.com, 2017)

made

Business model – How it works
MADE.com shifts the power of creative innovation to stakeholders in two remarkable ways, so customers and designers create most of the value. First, customers decide which designs go into production by voting on them (key resource and process). The most popular designs make it to the production facility. By using crowdsourcing for physical design purposes, MADE.com applies a co-creator model (Chui et al., 2016). Second, MADE.com created a service called “Made Unboxed”. The idea behind MADE Unboxed is that customers upload photos of their interior designed by MADE.com, with the purpose to inspire other customers (key resource and process). Consumers can now look at items in a real environment, without going to a showroom. Moreover, the online community nominates some home designs to serve as a showroom. Everyone who is interested can visit designs at the “interior designers” homes. This adds the extra service of touching and feeling the items, instead of only viewing the items (Customer Value Proposition). This short video, which serves as an overview of the services offered by MADE Unboxed, shows that cities are covered with multiple mini MADE.com showrooms. (MADE.com, 2017; Myndset, 2015; Johnson et al.,2008)

Moreover, their crowdsource initiatives go even further. MADE.com also organizes an annual online contest that is similar to LEGO ideas (Mladenow et al., 2015). The Made Emerging Talent Award is a contest in which promising upcoming designers are able to submit their ideas (Customer Value Proposition). The ideas will be judged based on the number of votes given by other designers and customers. Obviously, the designs with the most votes wins the contest.  After the contest, MADE.com takes the winning design ideas into production and adds them to their product line for the next 12 months (Profit formula).

download

Efficiency criteria; Win-win-win situation
With the current structure of the contest and MADE Unboxed, designers, customers as well as Made.com benefit from it in distinctive ways. The designers get exposure and maybe even a career boost if they win (see video  for further explanation). Customers vote and can thereby give direction to which designs they would like to see for sale (i.e. efficiency benefit). Finally yet importantly, Made.com benefits from all the votes and uploaded ideas because it gives them certainty that they produce the most desired furniture. In addition, because of all the mini showrooms, MADE.com does not need to have many showrooms themselves, resulting in lower asset costs. It clear that this business model results in joint profitability for all parties.

MADE.com also satisfies the feasibility of required reallocations criteria. Het polity is not invloved and terms regarding what is allows and what not need to be accepted by stakeholders.

 

 

Sources:

Chui, C., Liang, T. & Turban, E. (2016) What can crowsourcing do for decision support?. Journal of Decision Support Systems, 65: 40-49

Johnson, M.W., Christensen, C.M. & Kagermann, H. (2008). Reinventing your business model. Harvard Business Review, 86(12): 50-59

MADE.com (2017) MADE.com. Available at: http://www.made.com/about-us. Accessed on 14/02/2017

Mladenow, A., Bauer, C., Straus, C. & Gregus, M. (2015) Collaboration and Loyalty in Crowdsourcing. International Conference on Intelligent Networking and Collaborative Systems.

Myndset (2015) Available at: http://myndset.com/2015/04/digitail-experience-made/. Accessed on 14/02/2017

Social media is just like high school… How popular are you?


Were you popular in high school? If yes, do you still experience the perks you had back then? Can you still sit at the best table, and receive higher grades because you’re the teacher’s pet?

Probably not, because as you’re thinking, we’re living in the real world now. However, in the digital world the high school popularity contest is still relevant. A social media analytics company called Klout tells you exactly how popular you are based on a score ranging from one to a hundred. I thought it would be fun to check my Klout score but the ‘fun’ ended soon – I’m down to a score of 10. Of course I only have myself to blame, as I haven’t tweeted anything in four years and my Facebook profile only exists out of tags and a couple birthday congratulatory posts. Linking my WordPress account surprisingly also didn’t do the trick for at least moving my score more to the average.

Continue reading Social media is just like high school… How popular are you?

A Win-Win Business Model


In 2009 Vitaminwater launched flavorcreator, an application on Facebook. Flavorcreator consisted out of three phases and per phase users could play different games and participate in contests. The most important contest was to create your own flavor. This can be seen as an action of Vitaminwater to crowdsource symmetrically skilled, young users. As reward for participation the winning idea received $5.000. But I have to note that besides crowdsourcing, flavorcreator was also a clever way to do market research…

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“Brilliant creative, from creative people everywhere”


Introduction

The labour market is rapidly changing as it was first known by long term employment and now more and more by ‘contingent’ workers (Eamonn, 2015). Especially contracting talent is done in a more flexible way. Reports even state that by 2020 about 60 million US people will be ‘contingent’ workers (Eamonn, 2015). Crowdsourcing platforms provide the opportunity for brands/companies to manage talent in a flexible way. Tongal is such a crowdsourcing platform, but what does Tongal actually do?

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Dell’s IdeaStorm: still co-creation?


Nowadays, the strategy called co-creation has taken the business world by storm and many firms try to hop on board. Co-creation allows companies and customers to interact with each other by  creating a customer experience that is valuable for both parties. On one hand firms get a better grasp of the wants and needs of their customers, while customers on the other hand feel that their ideas are valued and their needs get fulfilled.

Continue reading Dell’s IdeaStorm: still co-creation?

Crowd contesting for innovation in transportation


There are number of ways how to induce innovation in the different fields. One of the interesting methods for generating new innovative ideas and approaches is crow contesting. Crowd contesting is an open contest that allows anyone to participate with his/her idea. To guarantee the outcome quality, a strict contest requirements and schedules has to be followed by every participating individual or team. To motivate participants for joining and actively devoting their effort, different types of incentives are used, such as monetary rewards, public recognition, and sponsorship funding offers. Furthermore, often times a passion in the particular field of contest is the main driver for participants. Crow contest is an efficient way of leveraging a power of competition to generate new ideas and approaches based on the theme of the contest.

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Personalized Task Recommendation in Crowdsourcing Information Systems


Crowdsourcing information systems aims at delivering informational products and services by harnessing a large group of online users. Individuals motivated intrinsically (e.g., enjoyment) or extrinsically (e.g., reward) can contribute to the system through picking among a variety of open tasks on crowdsourcing platforms. As the huge amount of tasks posted ever day, matching individual with an appropriate task that meet up individual’s personal preference and skill is crucial to the success.  However, in reality, the ever-increasing amount of opportunities engaging individuals on crowdsourcing platforms lead to an information overload situation. Therefore, how to assist contributors in finding a suitable task in line with self-identification principle has attracted scholars and practitioners’ attentions. Geiger and Schader (2014) review and analyze the current state of personalized task recommendation in crowdsourcing context which shed a light on designing the relevant mechanisms on crowdsourcing platforms.

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Shopping your Instagram feed has never been easier: Wheretoget.it


Have you ever been in the situation where you were scrolling through your Tumblr or Instagram feed and you suddenly came across a photo of someone wearing a clothing item you would really like to buy, but have no clue where the item is from? And you are not in the mood to spend the rest of your day hunting this item down or directly asking the person wearing it does not work? Well, forget the wasted time and awkward comments, because Wheretoget.it lets other consumers do the work for you!

Continue reading Shopping your Instagram feed has never been easier: Wheretoget.it

Combining Crowdsourcing and 3D Printing


Haarlem is a city located in the Netherlands and the capital of the province of North Holland. With a population of 155,000 it belongs to one of the bigger cities in the Netherlands and should have enough possibilities/resources for crowdsourcing a 3D Printing project, at least that’s what Max van Aerschot should have thought when he lauched his “Haarlem” cityprinting project.

Max van Aerschot, appointed to be city architect of Haarlem after fulfilling different projects, advised the town councils to focus on the east parts of the city. In his opinion, this part of the city has been forgotten since the late 60’s and citizens should be involved during initiatives for town planning. With co-building a city model, in the form of a 3Dprinting project, allows Max van Aerschot to show citizens what’s going on and how the future town planning of Haarlem looks like.

Visualizing, using city models, is an important tool for communication with citizens and additionally should result in more involvement in town planning. Gabriël Verheggen – Architect

Haarlem cityprinting project

After six years of walking around with his initial idea, Max van Aerschot launched the 3D printing project in collaboration with a few specialized companies and a lot of cizitens. The model would be built at a scale of 1:1000 and devided in 600 “puzzle pieces”. Making use of the crowd to create a city model is a wordwilde unique concept. Upon that, using the 3D printing technique makes it an extremely innovative crowdsourced 3D Puzzle project.

Crowdsourcing project.

Crowdsourcing is the process of getting work or funding, usually online, from a crowd of people. The word is a combination of the words ‘crowd’ and ‘outsourcing’. The idea is to take work and outsource it to a crowd of workers.

The choice for outsourcing the development of a cityprinted model of Haarlem to the crowd has several reasons. As told earlier it is a tool for communication and creating citizins involvement in town planning initiatives. Secondly, and probably one of the main reasons : 3D printing technique is a relative promising new technique however it allows Max van Aerschot “in collaboration with the crowd” to build the city model as it is nowadays at a scale of 1:1000. This project couldn’t have been done with old techniques due to a lack of time and financial resources. Besides the financial plusses, a lack of time is still a main reasons for crowdsourcing. The project couldn’t be a success without the crowd because of the lack of speed at which 3D printers work.

Using open-source data from the kadaster,  allows the initiatiors to devide the city plan in +- 600 pieces. This digital ‘puzzle’ is created in a way that every piece (18cm x 18cm) of the puzzle can be 3D printed with a (normal) 3D printer. This allows everyone who is owner of a 3D printer to participate in the co-creation process.

City printing

As pictured above, everyone who want’s to participate in the crowdsourcing project, can assign on a specific piece for creation. On the map : Blue = Free, Orange = Assigned but still needs to be print, Green= Printed.  After assigning on a specific “piece” participants will be provided with PLA (source for 3D printing) to print their assigned piece. The 3D printed part of Haarlem needs to be handed in at 3DMM (project – partner) to complete your role as a co-creator. After fulfilling the whole process, participants are rewarded with a place in the wall of fame and will obtain eternal fame on the first crowdsourced 3D printed city model.

 

Created by : Luut Willen

Sources:

http://www.3dmakersmagic.com/cityprinting

https://www.haarlem.nl/nieuws-schalkwijk/haarlemmers-3d-printen-eigen-stad/

http://novacollege.nl/actueel/nieuws/haarlem-gaat-3d-en-nova-college-print-mee

http://www.cityprintingproject.com/

http://www.cityprintingproject.com/pdf/artikel.pdf

http://www.haarlemsdagblad.nl/regionaal/haarlemeo/article23331693.ece/Stadsbouwmeester-wil-Haarlem-Oost-in-3D-printen_

Why should companies use crowdweaving?


Crowdweaving is a product from KLCommunications

First of all, it simply recognizes the fact your passionate customers remain a talented untapped resource for improving your ideation success rate. By allowing customers to help drive the process, companies will make better decisions. These decisions will both save and make more money for the company.

Continue reading Why should companies use crowdweaving?

Fan Funding – Let’s retake charge!


Through crowdsourcing of many kinds, people can support causes they are passionate about and, in the case of equity crowdfunding, even buy shares with voting shares, such that they gain a say in the operations of the organization or project they support. However, can people really fund and take charge of the things they are most passionate about?
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“Amongst all unimportant subjects, football is by far the most important.”  – Pope John Paul II
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The amount to which a large share of habitants of European countries, and many more worldwide, care about their favorite football club can hardly be overestimated. Though how often do we read about mismanaged clubs in severe financial problems? Opportunistic behavior of the top management of clubs unfortunately is rather rule than exception in the industry of football, often resulting in a short term focus, immense amount of debts and, in turn, the decay or even the liquidation of a club. Whereas the often very rich board members and owners are simply replaced after such disasters and move on with their comfortable lives, the fans are left in grief over the loss of their great pride and passion.
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There is hope. In the last years, some highly interesting and promising initiatives have taken place to redistribute a part of the control of a club to its fans. Due to financial mismanagement, from the 2009/2010 season onwards, the former British Premier League side Portsmouth Football Club was relegated three times in a row and the club found itself on the brink of extinction. But, in 2013, the fans injected 2.5 million pounds in their club, through a community share issue with partial ownership rights for each shareholder. The fans, essentially a club’s customers as they buy tickets and merchandise, saved Portsmouth and made ‘Pompey’ the largest fan-owned football club in the UK. The investing fans are united in the Portsmouth Supporter Trust (PST), which has to approve any major decision of the club’s board, such as the issuing of loan capital or venturing in acquisitions. While this yet is a beautiful example of what consumer involvement can do, last year a crowdfunding campaign backed by Portsmouth fans went a step further even. On Tifosy.com, a newly established platform with the aim to stimulate active supporter backings and decision rights, raised 270,000 pounds for Portsmouth to construct its first-ever club-owned academy, right in the heart of the city of Portsmouth.
tifosy
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The video below tells the great story of the Portsmouth fans’ actions.
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Two fans of 3rd Bundesliga side FC Fortuna Köln had an even greater ambition. The plan they launched last year proposed that any Fortuna supporter could fund its beloved club and, in turn, gained a vote on a wide array of possible decisions, including whether or not to buy a particular player, realize an investment to the clubs premises or even to sack the first squad’s manager. Every pound invested represents one vote, and the fan opinions alltogether would decide which actions the club had to take. Unfortunately, this highly democratic, wisdom-of-the-crowd enabling, crowdfunding campaign did not reach its funding goal, but the idea might very well turn out an industry changing one in the long run.
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The organization Supporters Direct promotes and researches the cause of the so-called Supporters Share Ownership. In their extensive 2013 report on this topic, the authors identify a rapidly increasing interest of both fans and politicians, whereas club owners and board members, the incumbent agents in this industry, display a fierce reluctance to venture in this kind of acquiring funds. To overcome this deadlock, the authors recommend policy makers to establish a Community Football Fund which would be created as a social investment intermediary capable of securing various forms of social investment to assist supporter ownership. Supporters Direct is paving the way for widespread supported ownership of football clubs, giving hopes to all those fans opposing the modern reality of football, where clubs are subject to the dangers of the few elite owners spending billions, those of the short term oriented, opportunistic board members and the investors who view players and clubs as mere investment vehicles.
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Sooner than expected, we might witness crowdfunding radically transform yet another industry; the highly conservative, but yet so deeply cherished industry of football. Let’s make it happen!
– Niek A. van der Horst
Crawley Town v Portsmouth - npower Football League One

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Resources

Buy this team, April 2012, The Economist, accessible at: http://www.economist.com/node/21553493

Crowdfunding: Football’s 12th Man!, April 3rd 2014, FC Business, accessible at: http://fcbusiness.co.uk/news/article/newsitem=3057/title=crowdfunding%3A+football%26%23039%3Bs+12th+man!

Is fan ownership the answer to struggling football clubs?, November 27th 2013, The Guardian, accessible at: http://www.theguardian.com/social-enterprise-network/2013/nov/27/fan-ownership-football-premier-league

Portsmouth FC Academy campaign successfully raised £270,000, August 16th, Tifosy, accessible at: https://www.tifosy.com/en/campaigns/pompey-academy

Start-up-Netzwerk für Fortuna Köln, April 8th 2014, Kölner Stadt Anseiger, accessible at: www.ksta.de/koeln/crowdfunding-start-up-netzwerk-fuer-fortuna-koeln,15187530,28071496.html

Supporter Share Ownership, 2013, Supporters Direct, accessible at: http://www.supporters-direct.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Supporter_Share_Ownership.pdf

“Style your Smart”: How a not so successful car brand learned us how to successfully generate ideas.


Five years ago, when consumer co-creation was not yet the hot topic it is today, Smart launched a very successful co-creation contest. Do you still remember Smart? The little city-cars, which eventually were not the success that the company had hoped for. In 2010 they launched a co-creation contest in which consumers could participate and make a design for the Smart car. They did not only engage their consumers in making the best design, but also engaged their consumers in a little game so they could help decide which design was the best. This approach of gamification did not only help Smart to engage more customers in this co-creation process, but also led to high quality designs and have strengthen the bond between consumers and the brand Smart.

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For companies co-creation has a lot of advantages.  Consumers create value for companies and products. Consumers express their needs, they help the company with (creative) ideas and companies can engage their consumers in deciding which product to launch next.  In February 2010, Smart launched the co-creation contest in which consumers could upload their design for the Smart car. The winner could win a monetary reward of $5000. They made an internet platform with a design tool so that even consumers with no experience in designing cars could participate. Besides that, they directly involved customers with the platform by allowing participants to comment on designs and rate different designs.  In only a few months, 10.000 members uploaded 50.000 designs to the website. There were 600.000 design evaluations and 27.000 comments.

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Smart did not only engage their consumers in designing the Smart, but they also thought: Why not let our consumers choose which design they like the most? Unfortunately, these decision-making processes are often perceived as boring by the public. Therefore Smart decided to gamify this contest. Gamification is a way to make things like an idea generating contest more appealing for the public. Games are often perceived as fun so they are a good way to get more engagement from consumers.

After the expert jury filtered out most of the designs, Smart opened the Matching game. If a participant entered the matching game he/she was connected to a different participant. When the game started they were both shown a few designs. The players were then asked to click on the design of which they thought that their co-player would consider it as the best design. If they both choose the same design, they had a Match and they received points. Despite the fact that Smart never promised any reward for the amount of points a player received, in total 2000 games have been played. This led to the following winning design:

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If we look at the statistics we can conclude that Smart launched a very successful co-creation contest which had a monetary reward of only $5000. Is the only trick they used to include gamification of the process? Or do you think that gamification is absolutely not a guarantee for succes?

References:
http://mercedes-benz-blog.blogspot.nl/2010/01/open-innovation-smart-launches-design.html
http://media.daimler.com/dcmedia/0-921-658944-1-1278743-1-0-1-0-0-0-0-0-0-1-0-0-0-0-0.html
http://www.smart-design-contest.com
http://www.autoblog.com/2010/01/06/daimler-encourages-you-to-design-your-own-smart-results-vary/