Huls acknowledged that this was Allstate's first foray into crowdsourcing, but not the last. "The concept of using the competition format to build predictive models is a new one," he said.
Huls added, "Allstate has leveraged some crowdsourcing techniques within its own internal employees, mostly in the areas of ideation, but this is the first time, to my knowledge, that we've leveraged an external crowd." He said the insurance giant plans to host additional contests this year.
Future crowdsourcing will sit side-by-side with Allstate's quantitative research and analytics department, consisting of a team of about 50 data scientists and data specialists. Huls described them as building "models to predict such things as the likelihood that a particular customer will incur a loss, renew or buy a policy, or pass a home inspection. We're excited to continue to benchmark our own models, build even better ones, and incorporate new techniques from these competitions."
In fact, the idea for such a competition came directly from Allstate's research staff where employees were already participating in other crowdsourcing projects outside of work.