Tapping the wisdom of customers.

March 29, 2008 at 10:13 am 1 comment

In The Wisdom of Crowds, New Yorker business columnist James Surowiecki argues that “under the right circumstances, groups of ordinary people are remarkably intelligent, and are often smarter than the smartest people in them.” So, I was excited to read about Dell’s Idea Storm in Laurie Clemans’ blog.

Apparently, Dell has been inviting customers to share ideas for new/improved products and services for over a year. Anyone can register, post an idea and rate (promote or demote) ideas posted by others. and see what Dell is planing to develop. According to Clemans, “the Dell Community has contributed: 8,949 ideas, promoted 615,131 times, and posted 69,456 comments.”

What makes IdeaStorm different from a corporate bog, newsgroup or discussion forum? It is powered by SalesForce.com, so I suppose it can tie into Dell’s CRM system. More important, it is transparent. Registered or not, site visitors can see the ideas, read comments and see which ones are “Reviewed” “In Progress” and “Implemented.”

Starbucks introduced a similar site on March 19, also powered by SalesForce.com. Unfortunately the $5/user pricing scheme offered by SalesForce.com may be too rich for most midsize companies. But if the idea farming process works, I expect to see competitive options in the near future.

If the of these efforts is nothing more than making customers (and employees) feel more connected to the companies, they can call it a win. If this is really a way to improve product design, we can all call it a win.

Entry filed under: customer focus, ebusiness, marketing, marketing research, product development, social media. Tags: , , , , .

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