Understanding the crowdsourcing technology spectrum

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by David Gardner

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In order to truly open a challenge to a ‘crowd,’ technology must be employed to reach a large number of individuals. Ideally, this group has enough diversity of opinion, experience, and expertise to truly yield novel ideas. As more organizations have adopted crowdsourcing for innovation, more crowdsourcing technology platforms have also been developed to better facilitate the ideation process beyond the initial submission of ideas.

The Evolution of Crowdsourcing

Since crowdsourcing became popular, especially for brands and other organizations, there have been instances in the past where crowdsourcing projects failed to garner submissions and attract enough participation. These use cases have been studied in order to avoid similar outcomes for future crowdsourcing projects. In addition, because each crowdsourcing project has variable parameters and restrictions, crowdsourcing technology has evolved to help avoid failures and tailor challenges according to each organizations’ needs.

Read Next: The benefits and limitations of crowdsourcing

The Technology Spectrum

The spectrum of crowdsourcing technology that is now available on the market shows an evolution from chat, ideas, and feedback, to an innovation community. Crowdsourcing is not simply creating a digital suggestion box and waiting for submissions to come in - there must be something more to get the ball rolling. There are several different types of platforms along the spectrum, each with their own capabilities:

On one end of the crowdsourcing technology spectrum, which has the lowest levels of participation and effective ideation, are Social Collaboration Tools. Organizations have used tools like chat apps like Slack or even social media to put out an open call for ideas, and further communication is usually kept right on that app or platform. On these platforms, users can be encouraged to submit ideas, or "like" the ones that they want to support. However, the social aspect can be limited by the platform and there are usually no further activities available to encourage the crowd to keep coming back. The ability to effectively aggregate, score and rank ideas while prototyping and testing worth-while opportunities, is non-existent.

Check out our Innovation & Crowdsourcing page for more.

Next on the crowdsourcing technology spectrum are Idea Management Tools. Idea Management Tools go a step further from Social Collaboration Tools by initiating idea contests and then keeping the crowd engaged towards implementation. These platforms can help organizations further along the ideation process because they usually have more specialized workflows for ongoing evaluation and collaboration, even after the initial call for ideas has closed. They help brands with idea management – aggregating, sorting and identifying feasible ideas. However, they tend to focus on internal (employee) crowdsourcing, which may limit the idea pool and overall level of insights needed.

These platforms also tend not to follow a methodology and custom workflows to promote innovation and creativity. Most importantly, the ‘crowds’ do not become an engaged community throughout the process.

Crowdsourcing Marketplaces fall in the middle of the crowdsourcing technology spectrum. These platforms connect parties to fulfill tasks - usually one with an idea, and the other, with a service or skill, to fulfill the idea. A popular crowdsourcing marketplace is Amazon Mechanical Turk, which is a marketplace of on-demand workers who can complete tasks they need done.

In a way, crowdsourcing marketplaces connect people from one crowd with another crowd. Think of it like "outsourcing" a task or a call for ideas from a skilled labor pool, but one in which the personal identities of crowd participants are usually hidden and long-term connections among the brand and crowd does not form.

Next on the crowdsourcing technology spectrum are Market Research VoC (Voice of the Customer) Panels. These platforms place the most importance on customer experience, and engage crowds to join the platform to create an insight community. They facilitate research through activities such as surveys, which can then be used by organizations to improve their products and services.

These platforms can also be referred to as customer intelligence platforms, and because they are customer-centric, they encourage loyalty between the brand and the consumer. Platforms like these aim to move beyond crowds and form communities, where organizations can develop ongoing relationships with members who are known to them. However, these platforms tend to have limited communications tools among its members, hindering the formation of actual communities where members feel like they are working together for a common goal and shared values.

Don't Miss: 7 tips for crowdsourcing designs for new products

They tend to focus on external insights, feedback and validation (not ideation), and typically rely on survey tools, which companies can use over and over again with the same core group of consumers. The goal is mostly to gather feedback and insights from a large enough sample size of consumers.

At the highest level of the crowdsourcing technology spectrum are Co-Creative Community Innovation Platforms.

This technology takes from each of the crowdsourcing technologies previously mentioned and combines them all into one robust platform. Here, participants take part in a range of gamified and collaborative activities, including creative challenges and interactive programs, discussions and other creative exercises to collect deeper customer insights, such as storytelling, photo associations, choose and rank and more.

The crowd is more commonly referred to as community members, and may consist of customers, employees, stakeholders, industry peers, and/or citizens.

Co-creative community members are able to form social relationships within the platform, as well as contribute to an organization that they are already interested and invested in - and feel valued as they are engaged throughout the innovation (and marketing) processes. Co-Creative community platforms give organizations the ability to incorporate the latest digital trends to always stay connected with their community (from mobile alerts to direct messaging), and keep them engaged and involved for the long-term.

Check Out: Co-creation vs Crowdsourcing - which drives greater business value?

Chaordix is a co-creative participation platform, and our software helps organizations collaborate and co-create with communities, whether they are internal (such as employees) or external (brand fans, for example). We have the capability to incorporate gamified activity bundles and program workflows, influenced by proven techniques for innovation and creativity.

These Creative Challenge programs can be used to solve specific business objectives, including new product development or improvement, customer experience improvements, marketing content development and/or brand engagement. The software itself is based on social collaboration, ideation and idea management, design thinking, and delivering more meaningful customer insights to compliment traditional market research, such as surveys and focus groups.

Our platform includes:

  • Innovation challenge programs and contests
  • Qualitative & quantitative analytics
  • Gamification, rewards and incentives
  • Group segmentation and community member personalization
  • Predictive insights
  • Product innovation opportunities
  • Authentic marketing content generation and sharing
  • On-demand global reach
  • Sustainable, persistent community

Co-creative community platforms provide the highest value both for organizations and customers. Because of these robust capabilities, our co-creative community programs and workflows for innovation and creativity can help ensure that your next crowdsourcing project is a success.

Check out how the Chaordix participation platform can fulfill your crowd innovation and collaborative community needs. Contact us today to request a demo!

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