Of all the recent disruptions in the corporate world, "crowdsourcing" has become one of the most widely recognized to date. Between the explosive growth of companies like Uber, AirBnB and the rise of crowdsourced funding platforms like GoFundMe and Kickstarter, it's clear that the movement has garnered a lot of support. Yet, the revolution behind crowdsourcing isn't just for kickstarting a bootstrap company. In fact, crowdsourcing contributes significant value for well-established companies as well. Let's take a look at 5 ways crowdsourcing can amplify even Fortune 500 companies.

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Regardless of company size, the key to staying ahead of the curve is to stay innovating in your industry. Companies like Google, Amazon and Alibaba remain on top not only because of the value they provide to consumers, but because of the innovation they bring to their respective industries. However, innovation doesn't happen with just one good idea from within a company, it's the result of consistent collaboration and the crowdsourcing of ideas to create something game-changing. Successful large-scale crowdsourcing of creative thoughts to further innovation comes from intentional design. Qmarkets' crowdsourcing solution is just one example of a system built specifically for companies looking to leverage the power of large audiences for tackling difficult problems.

However, there are a variety of ways to leverage crowdsourcing to foster innovation. One of the most important factors when innovating is focusing on what the consumer's need are. Yet, it's not a simple task to predict what features and products consumers will desire in the future. With that in mind, what better place is there to look for answers than the source?  

Consumer Insights

Businesses can take full advantage of the feedback and knowledge from relevant audiences to improve on the products and services they already offer as well as learning about potential new products for the future. New companies like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo have already perfected this formula in the "crowd economy" for entrepreneurs. By announcing and launching a new product on these crowdfunding platforms, not only do startups get instant market validation from consumers, but they start receiving immediate feedback on the products they've proposed.

In a similar manner, companies can look to the wisdom of relevant crowds to gain insight on multiple facets of their business. One great example of crowdsourcing consumer insights in action can be seen with the Lego Ideas program. The iconic toy creator has a strong following of not only young consumers, but of avid collectors and enthusiasts as well. Lego released the program to allow enthusiasts to submit design creations and ideas of their own. After submitting, users then vote on the ideas they like the most and want to see come to fruition. Then, Lego runs the most successful designs to production and even rewards the creators with certain royalties on the sales. Some of the most well-known Lego products to come from the Lego Ideas initiative include The Beatles "Yellow Submarine" kit and special Minecraft editions.

Testing Digital Assets

For companies operating in the digital age and perhaps not producing a physical product like Lego or other legacy businesses, crowdsourcing provides a different benefit. Application developers and strategic teams need only to look to the crowd for assistance with application testing, developing and solving bugs. Today, it's not uncommon for tech startups to release early beta versions of applications, games, or any other kind of software to gain feedback from consumers.

This early release will not only give a company valuable, immediate feedback on the program, but it also opens the door for crowdsourcing fixes as well. Security is a top concern for tech companies and is one area that crowdsourcing truly shines in the digital age. With platforms like BugCrowd and many other listing sites, tech businesses can access unparalleled testing for security vulnerabilities via crowdsourcing. Why have a limited team of security specialists test product security when you can reach thousands of qualified hackers who will test every angle of your product?

The Bottom Line

There are a lot new "economies" nowadays. Between the "gig economy," the "sharing economy" and the "crowd economy," it's not always easy to keep up with what works and what doesn't. But the "crowd economy" has always existed as a valuable tool for businesses, it's just never been implemented like it can be today. Companies have long sought insight from the crowds whether through employee suggestion boxes or customer surveys. Now, the difference is crowdsourcing can be accomplished on a much larger, more effective scale - take advantage of it.