Dell IdeaStorm – the snapshot

My obsession with finding out more about Dell IdeaStorm continues. I came across this great post written by Ann All about Dell and customers being in control where she interviewed Vida Killian, Dell IdeaStorm’s manager. The interview is very interesting and provides a lot of details about Dell and their principles. The interview details the objectives for IdeaStorm, the metrics Dell looks at, the Dell difference, the staffing and the journey they have been on. Below is a summary of the interesting information.

IdeaStorm start dates:

  • Customer run forums: early 1990s
  • Direct2Dell blog start date: June, 2006
  • Dell IdeaStorm start date: February 16, 2007

IdeaStorm objectives:

  1. Extension of our relationship with our customers.
  2. Customer and company collaboration on ideas

IdeaStorm metrics – how is the site measured:

  1. Not the normal ROI metrics
  2. Number of ideas
  3. Number of comments
  4. Number of votes
  5. Active vs inactive members
  6. Response rate: implemented, partially implemented, under review or reviewed
  7. All monitored on a weekly basis

IdeaStorm results – how the site is performing:

  • The home page tells you the status and performance of the site
  • 9,674 ideas that had been promoted 662,176 times

IdeaStorm difference – what makes it successful?

  • Dell responding to ideas and having a closed-loop feedback system. It’s not possible to do that for every single idea, of course. But Dell are listening and there are key things audiences can be pointed to.
  • Fortnightly update on ideas and actions. The visibility and the feedback mechanism make this different.

IdeaStorm staffing – how many people are employed?

  • Two people focus on IdeaStorm: one to drive the technology part and the enhancements to the site, as well as the business engagement (Vida Killian), and the other to moderate the site full-time.
  • Dell have an approximately 40-person team called Communities and Conversations. Participation is usually broken up by topic or product interest: tech support backgrounds, customer support backgrounds, marketing, communications, engineering.

IdeaStorm challenges – what is the biggest challenge?

  • Managing the ideas internally. It’s a challenge as to how to disperse ideas.

IdeaStorm journey – has this been an evolution?

  • It’s been an evolution. Dell chose speed to market – get it out quickly. There have been a lot of technology changes: initially vote up, not down.
  • Making it easier for customers and for Dell employees to get engaged – more and more Dell employees are joining in.
  • A focus on innovation now.

IdeaStorm Senior Management Beliefs – what is the culture?

  • “We’re direct. We listen to our customers. Let’s give them a place to get together and talk to us.”


Great post and I would recommend everyone reading it. You will learn a lot, particularly the internal challenges and processes that need to be implemented for getting a program like IdeaStorm up and running.


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One Response to Dell IdeaStorm – the snapshot

  1. nico says:

    Dominique, it is a very interesting post. I’m studying Dell community, since with my company (that is a startup trying to design a new pc for the knowledge workers) we are planning to do a similar thing, involving the users in the innovation and design process. I was looking for more information about Dell Ideastorm and your post has been a very good starting point. Thanks!

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