Dell is today seen as one of the most competent corporate users of Web 2.0 technologies, but for a while quite the opposite was true.

The ubiquitous systems manufacturer was once the object of the wrath of various high-profile bloggers, triggered by malfunctioning equipment and what they perceived as poor service exacerbated by the company’s silence in the blogosphere.

In 2005, it decided to ‘enter the conversation’ (in Web 2.0 enthusiasts’ parlance) and launched a blog to respond to these issues. As documented in the book Groundswell by Forrester Research analysts Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff, the success of that initiative triggered a company-wide conversion to the cause.

It has since established IdeaStorm, a website where customers can submit ideas for new products or improvements to existing services. Visitors to the site, which number in the thousands, can vote for the ideas they would most like to see realised. IdeaStorm is for Dell an invaluable source of new ideas and customer feedback. Among the 200 ideas already adopted so far are light-up keyboards for business laptops (so users can work when the lights go down on a flight) and multiple enhancements to device support for Linux environments. and Oracle use similar systems to allow customers to vote on what they should develop next.

Pete Swabey

Pete Swabey

Pete was Editor of Information Age and head of technology research for Vitesse Media plc from 2005 to 2013, before moving on to be Senior Editor and then Editorial Director at The Economist Intelligence...

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