Crowdsourcing for Business: An Emerging Paradigm

Crowdsourcing for Business:
An Emerging Paradigm
Shourya Roy
Area Manager, Human Computation
Xerox Research Centre India, Bangalore
[email protected]
Workshop on Social Computing, IIT Kharagpur
5th Oct, 2012
Crowdsourcing : What is it?
 The act of taking a task traditionally performed by an
employee or contractor, and outsourcing it to an
undefined, generally large group of people, in the form of
an open call
 Digitization, image labeling, user studies, machine translation
evaluation, logo design, EDA simulation, innovation contests, . .
Handwriting Recognition Problem*
Make progress
towards deciphering this
Put words which you
are unsure about in parenthesis
Instructions to Crowd
Many tasks are easy/feasible/doable for humans, but difficult/challenging/impossible
for computer programs
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– Xerox Confidential –
Examples (1/5)
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Examples (2/5)
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Examples (3/5)
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Examples (4/5)
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It has been Existing
Humans were the first “computers,” computers, used for math
9 examples of crowdsourcing, before ‘crowdsourcing’ existed :
Internet and Mobile Have Made it More Common and Promising
– Xerox Confidential –
Increasing Activities and Popularity
Increasing Popularity as Depicted
by Google Trends
Crowdsourcing on Google Scholar
Over the Last Few Years
“2M contributors who does more
than 4PY of work on an average day!”
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Changing Demographics
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What is the Problem
 Given a computational problem, design a solution using
human computers and automated computers
– Xerox Confidential –
Why is it Different?
Human in the loop (and not
Guinea Pigs)
Humans are actively
computing(not merely carrier
of sensors)
Main doer is Human (and not
Machines as in Assembly Lines)
The outcome is determined by
an algorithm (and not the
natural dynamics of the crowd)
Where is Research?
 Quality Estimation and Assurance (Redundancy and voting; Gold data; joint estimation of worker
quality and task difficulty; Symbiosis with Machine Learning)
 Complex Tasks (No discrete answer; Exploration and exploitation; crowd workflows;)
 Task Design (Optimize cost, quality and time; infinite completion time; Real time)
 Incentive and Motivation (Payment vs. non-payment; Optimal payment; Payment and quality; )
 Market Design (Reputation Mechanism; Monitoring and feedback; Task Discovery;
 Behavioral Aspects (Noisy behaviour; Non-reproducible;)
– Xerox Confidential –
An Emerging Research Field
An Interdisciplinary Research Field
That’s Alright – but Xerox!!?
We have transformed…
~25% Services
~50% Services
$15.2 billion
~$23 billion
$132 billion
$500 billion +
Leadership In
Document Outsourcing
Business Process
Information Tech
… into the world’s
leading enterprise for Business Process and Document
Xerox Revenue by Business Segment*
Is Crowdsourcing a Viable Alternative
to Outsourcing?
 Outsourcing is
Focus on the core business while partnering with 3rd
party vendors to tackle the
non-core operations
 Tasks requiring human intelligence and skills
 Data and process migration by smart use of
 Heavily human intensive; typically with the help of
 Large
workforce enabled by
technology executing tiny pieces of work
requiring human intelligence
Data Entry by Crowd
 We started by
considering a typical
outsourced process
(Data Entry)
Objective is to
understand a process in
detail and identify
implications for
 Digitisation of
insurance forms and
medical records for
US based insurance
 Typing in,
correction of
Features that make Form Digitization
process amenable to crowd sourcing
 Relatively low skill data entry work, known
as ‘key what you see’
 Already an outsourced process requiring a
low level of interactivity between
sequential steps
 Strong workflow tool to manage work, which
flows through a series of system and human
 Between sites
 Between sequential tasks
 Between agents (given their known skill
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Findings from Work-Practice Study (1/2)
Findings from Work-Practice Study (2/2)
Workplace Ecology : Data security is physical, technical
& social
 Crowdsourcing: lose
physical and social enforcement,
reduced control of workforce. Need technical solutions.
 Skills and Knowledge 1)‘key what you see’ data entry
actually involves extensive rule set. 2) Form difficulty
is situational. 3) Non-standard means non-standard.
 Crowdsourcing: Situational-based incentives and
supporting learning
 Being a Corporate Employee Pay alone not enough to
achieve SLA. Agents made accountable.
 Crowdsourcing: reduced accountability could increase
rejections of difficult work.
 Making the Workflow Work: Push model of work
 Crowdsourcing: Pull model of work raises coordination and
completion issues.
 Collaborative Working: Work is not collaborative at
workflow level; but it is at claim level (floorwalkers &
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Crowdsourcing is an emerging Research
It requires expertise and research
competencies from a number
Crowdsourcing can be applied in
various domains to solve problems in
a more effective manner
Finally, a large fraction of the
crowd comes from India
 Focused research and technologies
will be highly relevant
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• TurKit: Tools for Iterative Tasks on Mechanical Turk; Greg Little,
Lydia B. Chilton, Robert C. Miller, and Max Goldman
• Matt Lease Tutorial
• Soylent – A cr
• – S. Cooper et. al
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