Posts Tagged ‘crowdsourcing’

Share the Problem
60David Nikel

David NikelOctober 5, 2014

The Power of the Crowd in Copenhagen

Regular readers of the Technoport Playground will know how proud we are of our Share the Problem concept. Our latest event was held last week at DIGS here in Trondheim, all about the future of the transport system in Norwegian cities. A full report is coming soon!

Our Share the Problem concept is one example of what is commonly referred to as crowdsourcing.

Definition of crowdsourcing

Definition via Google

Of course, we’re not the only organisation out there to embrace the power of “the crowd”

There’s a whole bunch of private sector companies, governmental organisations and charities doing similar things.

Introducing Crowdsourcing Week Europe

Crowdsourcing Week EuropeCrowdsourcing Week Europe 2014 explores the best practices in crowdsourcing and the collaborative economy that are fundamentally changing society, mindsets and possibilities across all industries.

Taking place from 14-16 October in Copenhagen, CSW Europe follows a successful global conference in Singapore that saw forward-thinkers from 31 countries converge to learn, network, and engage. CSW Europe’s program will provide an equally in-depth look at the impact of the crowd economy, crowdfunding, and crowd technologies—and what it means for you. Learn from 30+ crowd­sourcing experts at the frontier, discover what this shift means for your industry, and learn how to leverage the crowd for your organization.

Speakers comprise of pioneers that are leading disruptive, crowd-driven transformations in their industry. Nathan Waterhouse, openIDEO; Troels Lange Anderson, Lego; and Ken Webster, Ellen MacArthur Foundation are just a few of the speakers who will be highlighting how crowds are driving ideas, innovation, and acceleration.

A nice feature of this conference is the themed approach, allowing you to pick and choose the days most relevant to you:

  • Tuesday, October 14 – Crowd Economy: Big Picture Impact
  • Wednesday, October 15 – Crowdfunding: Invest, Innovate & Accelerate
  • Thursday, October 16 – Crowd Technologies & Business Models

Here at Technoport, we work with crowdfunding (Live Crowdfunding Experiment) and crowdsourcing (Share the Problem) on a regular basis so we’re confident this conference will be of interest to our crowd.

Check out the full agenda here.

Share The Problem - Transnova
60David Nikel

David NikelMay 27, 2014

A Look Back at Share The Problem

The Live Crowdfunding Experiment wasn’t our only experiment at Technoport 2014.

We also launched a series of crowdsourcing workshops, following a successful pilot event with Statoil earlier this year. The concept is simple. Partners describe a real problem specific to their industry and look to source solutions from a diverse group of participants with “fresh eyes”. We called these workshops Share The Problem.

It is fair to say there was a mixed bag of results from across the sessions, but one thing was clear from the feedback: participants enjoyed the process and learned something new.

I caught up with Erlend Solem, Director of Transnova, just before he was due to meet the Norwegian Government’s Transport Committee. He was so excited about the results from the Transnova Share the Problem that a one-minute chat turned into fifteen. Sorry if I made you late, Erlend :)

By providing grants and advice for pilot and demonstration projects, Transnova encourages new and future-oriented sustainable mobility solutions. Their focus areas are:

  • New technologies
  • Increased use of climate-efficient means of transport
  • Reductions in transport

In their Share the Problem session, Transnova asked that if we free ourselves from basing the electric car on the traditional fossil-fuel powered cars, what would the electric car of the future and the system within which it functions look like?


How was your Share the Problem?

Erlend Solem Transnova“We were very excited by the process and the methodology. We had no real idea what to expect so we felt the whole event was an interesting experience. The group was very well mixed, it had a perfect balance of competence, even a Professor in Psychology!”

“We were limited to what we could achieve in two sessions of three hours though, it is a short time to set the groups up and have them deliver results.”

Did participants grasp the concept?

“We tried to have them break out of the box completely, which is especially hard in just a few hours, but I felt that the icebreaker and the presentation of the problem was done very well. The group responded very well.”

“I joined some of the groups as they were working and from the bits I observed, each group worked differently. I spoke with several of the group members during the break and they understood there were different processes across the three groups which was very interesting.”

“The results weren’t ideal, but as we were discussing a totally new system we hadn’t expected that. However, they managed to bring three ideas to a concept description stage, which we felt was fantastic.”

That’s something Transnova can take away?

“Absolutely! We discussed with Technoport during the process if it’s possible for us to use the same method with a combination of our own staff and external participants, as we felt the process and method was very clever and effective.”

What did you think?

  • Should we repeat the Share the Problem concept?
  • How can the process be improved?
  • What industries and companies would you like to work with?
15Megan Jones

Megan JonesApril 4, 2014

Technoport 2014: Leila Janah on Samasource and social entrepreneurship

At the end of April innovators, entrepreneurs, business leaders and other technology pioneers will gather in Trondheim for Technoport 2014. In the run up to this exciting event, we will publish a series of interviews with our speakers to learn more about how they are driving innovation. This week we hear from award-winning social entrepreneur Leila Janah, founder and CEO of Samasource.

How would you explain Samasource and how it works?

“Sama” is the Sanskrit word for “equal”. The entire SamaGroup (which also includes SamaUSA and Samahope) was built on a shared vision – that of an equal opportunity world, where people aren’t suffering in poverty simply because they happened to be born in a disadvantaged region. We connect people in need to medical care and to dignified work that enables them to take control over their futures.

Impact sourcing is one piece of this strategy. In simple terms, it refers to the practice of outsourcing labor to disadvantaged populations. So if you’re a large corporation and you’re regularly sending work to business process outsourcing (BPO) firms, impact sourcing allows you to use some of those contracts to fight poverty and improve lives. If only a handful of the world’s largest corporations dedicated 5% of their outsourcing portfolios to impact sourcing service providers, it would make a significant dent in global poverty.

Samasource uses the Microwork model. Can you explain what this is and how it has been implemented?

Think of the way an iPhone, or any peripheral device, connects to a computer. You use an adapter cable that allows the two devices to exchange information. The Microwork model is like a massive adapter cable that allows people in poverty to plug their brainpower into global enterprises. It’s a way of connecting these two groups – corporations and the impoverished – for mutual benefit.

Customers approach us with large data projects that require vast numbers of small human judgments. For example, a company might have thousands of photos featuring pieces of furniture that need to be carefully tagged so that computers can be trained to recognize the shape of a chair, or a couch. We break that project down into irreducible tasks, and set up a workspace for them within our technology platform. These tasks then get sent to our delivery center partners in the field, where members of disadvantaged populations are trained to complete them.

Through the Microwork model, you might see a single mother who’s lived her entire life in a Kenyan slum tagging images for a major international corporation. But what’s truly unique about the Microwork Model as a solution to poverty is the way it invests skills and experience in workers. 89% of our workers either go back to school or find further employment in the formal sector.

Some have criticized Samasource for outsourcing the work of US citizens to other countries. How do you respond to this?

This is a common misconception. The services that Samasource provides to its customers – which include huge global brands like Google, Microsoft, and LinkedIn – would in most instances be too cost-prohibitive to complete in the United States. So it’s not as if our workers in Kenya or India are out-bidding Americans for jobs. If our workers weren’t completing these data projects, they’d be completed by a BPO firm or simply not done at all.

With that said, Samasource recognizes that poverty is a global problem, and we’re equally dedicated to fighting it here in the US. I started SamaUSA for this reason. SamaUSA is a domestic program that teaches digital skills to low-income community college students, and helps them to find work on online job platforms like Elance and oDesk. SamaUSA is running in three California community colleges already, and we’re poised to scale the program through the entire country.

Do you have plans for scaling up the impact sourcing model further?

A solution to poverty is only viable if it affects a significant number of individuals, and Samasource has always targeted women and youth who support multiple dependents for this reason. We want the wages we pay to positively impact families and invest new capital in entire communities.

But we’re just one participant in a growing trend, in a fledgling industry. Right now, we’re trying to use our influence with large corporations to support the entire impact sourcing space. We believe that we can scale this model collaboratively, by compelling major brands to commit part of their outsourcing portfolios to any number of impact sourcing service providers.

Have there been any technological challenges associated with outsourcing work? What does the future hold for this?

The lack of reliable Internet access in the developing world has been a significant challenge. One of our model’s limitations is its inability to reach populations that are off the grid. In a lot of remote areas, infrastructural investments must be made before the Microwork Model can be applied and people can be recruited.

We’ve had great success, however, when those infrastructural investments have been made. We’ve partnered with Oxfam Novib and a number of other international NGOs on a project called Internet Now! that’s bringing Internet access and computer-based work to rural areas in northern Uganda. This region was devastated by the country’s civil war and never recovered. Many people there still live in huts, and walk miles every day to collect safe drinking water from public pumps. But with our partners ALIN and Inveneo, we’ve set up solar-powered, Internet-enabled centers in three rural Ugandan communities. The people there may not have running water in their homes, but they’re getting paid to complete computer-based tasks for huge global brands. It’s amazing.

What have been your main triumphs and tribulations as a social entrepreneur, and what advice would you give others? 

Samasource has now reached over 20,000 people through the wages it pays to workers. I consider that a colossal triumph, although it’s just the beginning of what we hope to accomplish. Experiencing the spark of inspiration as a social entrepreneur – that “a-ha” moment when I get an idea that I think can help people – is exhilarating, but that moment is the start of a long, arduous journey toward real impact.

When raising money to get Samasource off the ground I heard “no” from a lot from potential funders. I’ve also faced people who think I have no business being in the tech industry as a woman, and as a woman of south Asian descent. But I’ve also been lucky to find kindred spirits who are just as excited as I am about using technology to change the world.

The most valuable advice I’ve ever heard comes from Silicon Valley leader and investor Ben Horowitz: “Don’t quit.” Especially in the tech world, where successes can become obsolete within the blink of an eye, it’s crucial to a have an inner voice simply telling you to keep going, keep refining, keep striving.

Want to hear more?

Leila will speak at our A Tool For Change session at Technoport 2014. She will elaborate on the topics explored in this interview as we shed light on how innovation and entrepreneurship can change the world. Learn more about Technoport 2014.

Image credit:
15Megan Jones

Megan JonesApril 2, 2014

Technoport 2014: Lauren Anderson on the game-changing power of collaborative consumption

At the end of April innovators, entrepreneurs, business leaders and other technology pioneers will gather in Trondheim for Technoport 2014. In the run up to this exciting event, we will publish a series of interviews with our speakers to learn more about how they are driving innovation. This week we hear from Lauren Anderson, Community Director at the pioneering shared economy organisation Collaborative Consumption.

1. How would you explain “collaborative consumption”?

We describe collaborative consumption as the reinvention of old market behaviours such as bartering, lending, swapping, trading and exchanging – but this time they’ve been reinvented for the Facebook age! Social, mobile and location-based technologies are enabling us to share and exchange all kinds of assets now – from physical stuff to less tangible things like time, skills and space – on a scale and in ways that wouldn’t have been possible even 10 years ago.

2. How is collaborative consumption disrupting existing models of doing business?

We are already seeing collaborative consumption disrupting established 100-year-old industries such as car manufacturing, hospitality and even banking by putting the power in the hands of the people. These new technologies are not only more efficient and often more affordable, but they also provide more authentic and personal experiences over mass-produced and standardised, which is something people are hungry for these days. Having said this, there are many ways that existing companies can, and should, get involved in understanding how this consumer shift might affect them, and what they can do to maintain relevance and build brand loyalty with these new consumers.

3. What are some examples of different types of businesses that are leading this movement?

In our directory of examples we have documented more than 1000 examples of collaborative consumption globally, and have found examples in more than 100 countries. But while there are many small local marketplaces in this space, there are also some bigger global companies who operate across a number of continents.

Airbnb, the p2p accommodation marketplace, is arguably the biggest collaborative consumption platform in the world, behind sites like eBay. TaskRabbit and similar task marketplace platforms have been hugely successful. Carsharing and bikesharing platforms are up and running in hundreds of cities around the world, transforming the ideas of mobility. And for a local start-up, EasyBring is a collaborative distribution service, or ‘crowdshipping’, tapping into a network of deliverers who can send packages for others.

4. Cities are also getting involved – tell us a bit more about that.

Cities look after a lot of the regulation at a local level, and in many cases collaborative consumption companies are not adequately dealt with in the current legislation, causing a lot of uncertainty and fear. Other than that, there are many ways cities can adopt collaborative consumption-based models to supply services to residents and also build a culture of empowered citizens rather than a passive community. We expect to see many cities following the likes of Seoul in South Korea, and Portland, Oregon, to really make Shareable Cities part of their mandate.

5. What role can collaborative consumption play in overcoming global challenges such as climate change?

As an example, most collaborative consumption platforms are focused on maximising the ‘idling’ or underused capacity of the things around us – ensuring that the things we own are used to their full potential. Other platforms are dedicated to the redistribution of stuff from where it’s not wanted to somewhere it’s needed, extending the lifecycle of products otherwise headed to landfill. And perhaps most importantly, collaborative consumption encourages people to consider whether they really need to buy something new, or if there are other ways they could access it, which might involve connecting with other people in the community.

6. Where do you see collaborative consumption going in the future?

In the future, we definitely see that there will be much more involvement from existing organisations, as well as local and even federal governments, as collaborative consumption becomes a much bigger part of the consumer ecosystem. We will start to see the most successful models of collaborative consumption being scaled and replicated around the world, and local economies will be strengthened through these new ideas. Ultimately we believe that we will be able to reduce our reliance on the consumer machine, and that we will be able to restore the balance of community and contribution that we are missing today.

Want to hear more?

Lauren will feature at our Troublemakers event at Technoport 2014. She will elaborate on the topics explored in this interview as we showcase stories of some of the individuals behind disruptive companies. Learn more about Technoport 2014.

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Crowdfunding interview
15Megan Jones

Megan JonesMarch 13, 2014

Technoport 2014: Liz Wald explains international crowdfunding

At the end of April innovators, entrepreneurs, business leaders and other technology pioneers will gather in Trondheim for Technoport 2014. In the run up to this exciting event, we will publish a series of interviews with our speakers to learn more about how they are driving innovation. This week we hear from Liz Wald, Head of International at crowdfunding website Indiegogo

How would you explain Indiegogo to someone not familiar with crowdfunding?

Crowdfunding is the process of raising money from a large number of people to fund the projects that matter to them, resulting in significantly more funds and awareness than would ever be possible through a single contribution. As with Indiegogo, this primarily happens online, where money is exchanged, often for an item called a “perk” in a way similar to other online marketplaces like eBay, Airbnb and others. 

There is no approval process for campaigns on Indiegogo (unlike other platforms, like Kickstarter). Why is that?
We welcome a diversity of campaigns spanning creative, cause-related and entrepreneurial projects. This gives campaign owners and contributors the chance to fund what they care about most, without restrictions.  We don’t think we should judge who should raise funds for their idea, but rather the crowd should choose to fund or not based on their interests.

In keeping with the company’s mission to democratize funding, it’s important for Indiegogo to remain an open platform. With no application process or waiting period associated with launching a campaign, individuals can start raising funds immediately, without delays or bottlenecks. Further, we do not curate, which means that we, as a third-party, don’t arbitrarily define the value of any campaign on behalf of the campaign owner.

What, in your view, are the hallmarks of a successful technology crowdfunding campaign? What are some examples of innovative projects?
Beyond raising money, crowdfunding provides several benefits for individuals and organizations. First, a crowdfunding campaign creates a unique opportunity for market validation and increased access to social networks, amplifying overall awareness as like-minded people continue to visit and share your campaign. Second, entrepreneurs can receive early customer feedback, giving them an advantage as they refine their service or product. Third, those who crowdfund gain access to emails and data analytics, providing crucial insights as they move forward once the campaign is over.  This is as true for a creative campaign as a tech-focused one.

One great example is the wireless activity tracker called Misfit Shine.  In addition to raising close to $850,000 from nearly 8,000 backers, they got invaluable feedback on their product design and as a result of the campaign launched both a necklace and a bracelet as well as their original clip-on product. This kind of customer feedback would be nearly impossible if just one or a handful of investors had backed the company.  Even better, they finished their campaign with a great database of users, plenty of funds to create their product, and the proof of concept needed to then take their idea to investors if they chose to do so.

There are campaigners and contributors from nearly 200 countries on Indiegogo. Do you find that certain types of projects are more popular in different countries or regions?
Indiegogo doesn’t focus on any particular category. Below are a few examples of categories of campaigns on the platform:
– Film
– Web/Video
– Music
– Gaming
– Design
– Small Business
– Community
– Health
– Education

Interestingly we’ve seen a pretty solid mix from all corners of the earth.  While hi-tech projects might be obvious in places like the US, Germany and Israel, we see them from less expected locations as well.  We also see amazing innovations from places like Rwanda where a solar phone charger is more a necessity than a novel idea.  The bottom line is that creativity and ingenuity exist everywhere.

Indiegogo currently accepts and disburses funds in USD, CAD, EUR, AUD, and GBP. Do you foresee it accepting Norwegian kroner anytime soon?  
We’re consistently improving our platform to better meet the needs of our international customers and will continue to offer more global payment options as we move forward.  Whether it’s the krone or yen that comes next, the important thing is that we continue to give people options both for raising funds and for making it easy for contributors to participate.

Want to hear more?

Liz will feature at our Venture Angels and Crowd Investors event at Technoport 2014. She will elaborate on the topics explored in this interview as we shed light on the future of funding new ventures. Learn more about Technoport 2014.

4Rob Moore

Rob MooreFebruary 19, 2014

An Introduction to Crowdsourcing (Part One): A Brief History of Collaboration

Last month, we discussed the mechanism of crowdfunding to finance projects collectively. This time, we introduce the concept of crowdsourcing, a broader approach that encourages open-innovation through the shared resources and talents of crowds. This will also be a major theme of Technoport 2014, throughout which we will run a number of ‘Share the Problem’ workshops inspired by a crowdsourcing philosophy.

History is told through the stories of kings, but is created through the actions of crowds. The industrial revolution was enabled by the vast numbers of workers able to contribute to mass production. The Norwegian response during World War II was led by small units of subversive fighters sourced from Norway’s disenfranchised populace, with little oversight from above. Even in the contemporary world, social networking leads us to think of creators like Zuckerberg, and brands like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – giving little thought to the masses of individuals that sustain them through their user-reliant business models. And so it is in the world of innovation, where we associate technological progress with companies, academic institutions and publically funded bodies, but in which the sea of individuals and networks that comprise these organisations drive the innovation that fuels this progress.

In a 2006 edition of Wired magazine, Jeff Howe and Mark Robinson coined the term crowdsourcing to describe how the collective creativity of a worldwide ‘network of potential labourers’, through various internet-based platforms, can be channeled to generate solutions to problems previously confined to isolated businesses and organisations. Crowdsourcers tap into this endless network of potential problem solvers, each with a distinct personal history and area of expertise. The idea is simple, but effective. If you have a problem that you are unable to solve internally, ask the world to solve it for you. In return, solvers can be rewarded through either money, satisfaction, or professional development.

But why crowdsource? Society is structured so that we slowly find our way to our field through an increasingly fragmented education system. We go to school and excel at some subjects whilst failing at others, and from there we become ever more specialized at university or in the workplace. Whilst this allows us to perform highly technical tasks, it means that we restrict our limits for problem solving to within the pre-defined boundaries of our discipline.

Crowdsourcing finds solutions to modern problems from the outside of these boundaries, exposing solutions that are hidden by the labyrinth of modern society. Outside the boundaries of organizations lies an army of willing contributors with fresh insight, expert input and willingness to spend their time to enable the progress of others. And the world in which we live is interconnected. Global challenges such as climate change, food security, energy production and poverty reduction all require the collaborative response which crowdsourcing is inspired by.

In recent years, crowdsourcing has developed into a tool not only for businesses looking to provide a platform for the creative industries (such as t-shirt design site Threadless), but also for social entrepreneurs, NGOs and non-profit organisations to overcome constraints in budgets and expertise by harnessing the potential of the willing and capable crowd. Next time, we will present some of the platforms and tools used by these organisations to help tackle social and technological innovation problems on a local, national and international scale.

Image courtesy of Adam Payne

11Annette Hovdal

Annette HovdalSeptember 19, 2013

Open innovation – innovate our way to the future?

Big companies, like IBM and Google, are looking to open innovation. Open innovation platforms, like InnoCentive, outsource innovation problems to the world public to solve. Why this focus on open innovation?

The short answer is as follows: companies are looking to open innovation for faster development and market launch of new products and services, and to diversify risk and the sharing of both market and technological uncertainties of innovation. InnoCentive crowdsource innovation problems to the whole world via an online platform, so that the smartest people in the world can compete to come up with the best ideas which will solve problems that matter to business and society.

Technoport has invited Dwayne Spradlin, CEO of Health Data Consortium, to come and hold a Technoport Talk on open innovation. Spradlin is the former President and CEO of InnoCentive Inc., the crowdsourcing pioneer connecting corporations, government, and foundations to a global network of innovators over the internet. Spradlin’s Talk will take place during “Topplederkonferansen” at NTNU, 15 October.

Spradlin croppedSpradlin will give us insight into the open innovation model, a model more and more used during the last decade. He will talk about crowdsourcing; give good examples on how this works, and how the company leaders at the conference could use this and proceed to formulate their problem accurately in order to improve the quality and efficiency of their innovation efforts. Technoport find Spradlin’s thoughts and knowledge on this topic inspiring. We believe that open innovation is a way to innovate faster and better.

The conference is for invited only, but we will of course film Spradlin’s Talk, and share it with you. In the meantime, let us get to know the terms open innovation and crowdsourcing better.

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