Competitive Crowdsourcing — When You Need It and When You Don’t

October 9, 2015 Clinton Bonner


As much as we at Appirio like to crank the Rocky IV soundtrack and let the competition begin, the truth is, not all crowdsourcing platforms use competition. And that’s okay — some don’t need to use a competition methodology to produce results for you. But why is competition a huge value add for certain types of work, while it brings zero value to other types that can be crowdsourced?

It all depends on the type of work. Today, with crowdsourcing, you can accomplish a variety of work, supporting almost every single business function. The spectrum of crowdsourcing runs from micro-tasks (that can be done within minutes and with no particular skill needed) all the way to large-scale open innovation challenges (like XPRIZE) where the challenge can take years and require very specific and diverse skills within the singular challenge.

A good rule of thumb in crowdsourcing: As the skill set needed to do the work increases, so does the value added by using a competition methodology.

Here are 2 examples to illustrate this point:

Scenario 1: A task with no required skills needed. Say a town is looking to crowdsource its citizens to report potholes. A mobile crowdsourcing platform — like Gigwalk — is likely a fantastic choice. Here, competition isn’t needed. All the citizens need to do is use their smartphones to photograph potholes they come across. By using mobile specific features (like geolocation) and the citizens (“the crowd”), the town can greatly reduce costs and gather the information more accurately — simply because more eyes are already on the street looking out for potholes.

Scenario 2: Creative work with specific skills needed. A company needs some promotional videos created for their corporate re-brand. In this scenario, competition will benefit them greatly, as it will drive the best concepts, scripts, and video production. All along the chain, competition helps ensure that you receive both creativity and quality.

At Appirio, we use a competition methodology in our crowdsourcing platform, as the skills needed to accomplish the work we take on are high-value skills, like UX design, coding, and algorithm creation. We find that competition in our model breeds creativity, and brings the winning solutions to the top. Even within our singular platform and community, we take on a wide variety of work from design, development, and data science. Challenges are set up to produce the right volume of solutions for your particular needs.

Whether or not a crowd platform does or does not have competition at its core doesn’t determine its value. Keep the rule of thumb in mind and ask yourself this question: Does the work you’re trying to get done involve specific, high-value skill sets? If the answer is yes, then use a crowdsourcing model where competition is at the core. It will give you the most consistent and creative results.


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