Dell Ideastorm

Recently I wrote about the topic open innovation, as a means to improve the competiveness of a company by having company externals partipate in the creation of innovative ideas. The Ideastorm Community made by Dell, is an example for open innovation principles, and is often cited in the literature.


In the center of the Ideastorms approach, Dell has installed a Website that is supposed to deliver the following:

„The goal is for you, the customer, to tell Dell what new products or services you’d like to see Dell develop. We hope this site fosters a candid and robust conversation about your ideas.

Our commitment is to listen to your input and ideas to improve our products and services, and the way we do business. We will do our best to keep you posted on how Dell brings customer ideas to life.“ see → About Ideastorm

The ideastorm community software functions support registered people to enter ideas, to vote for their implementation, and to enter comments on any idea.On the about page of the community, you can read the following statistics, and you can see the status of each ideas:

„The Dell Community has:

– Contributed  13,157 ideas
– Promoted  705,768 times
– Posted  88,240 comments
Dell has:
– Implemented  389 ideas“ see → About Ideastorm

Any Comment?

The Ideastorm community is a managed community, and has a moderator. It is basically a means that supports the following tasks

  • the collection of company external ideas,
  • the gathering of an understanding of the importance of these ideas for (prospective) customers,
  • the elaboration of single ideas to more complex requirements, using principle of the crowdsourcing approach.

Ideas entered can be voted. Each website vistor can „promote“ ideas, or he can „demote“ it. At the end, each idea has a number attached to it, which represents this importance. Visitors can further enter comments, which sometimes evolve into discussions, as shown in the following example. At the end the idea has been enriched with opinions of other visitors, and represents a complete view to an entire topic.

No more plastic wrap, pleaseBy falbert, May 22, 2008 |
In the last shipment of computers I received I was shocked by the amount of plastic wrap used for items like power cords, USB cables, VGA/DVI cables. Do these items really need to be individually wrapped in a plastic bag. I can just imagine the tons of plastic used by Dell annually…
phubert May 23, 2008
Of course, another issue is how packing is done, in general. Note that THIS suggestion says „Do these items really need to be INDIVIDUALLY wrapped “, it’s not just a question of using plastic but also of HOW it is used.

Can this work?

The Ideastorm approach can work for you, if your company has a large population of customers and potential customers. If you assume that not all vistors enter an idea, and if you keep in mind that typical conversion rates of a website are below 5%, you can imagine that you might need millons of people visit your site, in order to get that quantity of ideas..

If you are interested in a stable solution, you normally need consolidated requirements. I think that the comment function is particularly helpful in supporing this need, as it is an helpful approach, to gather consolidated requirements, if you have people discuss.

My doubt is with the number of implemented ideas. Observe that 13.000 ideas are entered, and 389 (only) are realized. In my experience this is a low number compared to the effort, which the vistors spent in order to formulate these ideas.

Weiterführende Informationen

Das Original dieses Artikels ist auf Der Produktmanager erschienen (©Andreas Rudolph). Regelmäßige Artikel gibt es über die (→Mailingliste), oder indem Sie →mir auf Twitter folgen. In der Online Version finden Sie hier die versprochenen weiterführenden Links:

No Responses to “Dell Ideastorm”

  1. Junie Dudek sagt:

    This is a excellent post, but I was wondering how do I suscribe to the RSS feed?

  2. Hi Junie

    thanks for your feedback.

    On the right hand side on the homepage will you find a multi-tab area titled „Popular“, „Latest“, Comments“… The last tab allows you to subscribe i.e. to RSS or to feedburner (Mail delivery).

    However, as I write much content in German, you might want to consider to use the site online, and to translate it with the online-translaters further below (These deliver you machine translations – understandable, but not perfect). As far as I know there is no automatic translation feature for RSS feeds, which does the same.