Business Week on user-driven innovation

Dell Ideastorm
Dell’s new IdeaStorm is just one example of how forward-thinking companies are making their customers co-creators or ‘prosumers’, argue Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams in Business Week.

Michael Dell recently launched IdeaStorm where he is “asking his customers for advice on how to improve Dell (DELL) products in hopes that their collective wisdom will offer some unique insights that will help turn the company around. […]

Dell told us that he sees customer-driven innovation like this as the linchpin of his strategy for Dell 2.0. “We need to think differently about the market and engage our customers in almost everything we do,” he says. “It’s a key to us regaining momentum as a technology industry leader. […]

In [this] new model, customers participate in the creation of products in an active and ongoing way. They do more than customise or personalise; they add value throughout the product life cycle, from ideation and design through aftermarket opportunities. Increasingly, customer-driven production is at the heart of some of the most innovative products and services around—from the user-generated content on MySpace, Flickr, and YouTube to customer-created advertising campaigns to virtual communities such as Second Life, in which “players” create all of the game content, own their intellectual property, and even provide volunteer customer support.”

Tapscott and Williams conclude that “the opportunity to bring customers into the enterprise as co-creators of value presents one of the most exciting, long-term engines of change and innovation that the business world has seen. But innovation processes will need to be fundamentally reconfigured if businesses are to seize the opportunity.”

Don Tapscott is chief executive of New Paradigm, a technology and business think tank, and the author of 11 books about information technology in business and society, including Paradigm Shift, The Digital Economy, and Growing Up Digital. His recent book Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything is a New York Times bestseller. Anthony D. Williams is an author, researcher and former lecturer at the London School of Economics. He is vice-president and executive editor at New Paradigm and co-author of Wikinomics.

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  1. Exciting news, true, but IdeaStorm and the like are NOT new business models or concepts, as BW should know.

    In 1999, Internet guru David Siegel, authored the best-selling FUTURIZE YOUR ENTERPRISE, in which he described why and how companies should be customer-centric and customer-driven. In the same year, Siegel, with CEO Greg Tucker (now president of the California State Automobile Association) founded Futurize Now, a San Francisco consultancy. They recruited me, some snappy Web developers, and later Cliff Figallo, one of the WELL’s first community managers.

    Among its other innovations, FN created inbound consumer forums for B2B and B2C companies, based on The WELL, the renowned, pioneering Bay Area online community associated with the Whole Earth movement. FN accomplished for its clients then what Dell has done now, and what all the professors are twittering about, seven years later.

    However, as FN’s director of marketing and customer culture, I experienced how tough a sell this good idea was with everyone flying high on funny money. Who wanted their customers involved? Time’s change.

    Regrettably, the Dot-Bomb collapse, which had nothing to do with Siegel’s concepts or his company, took a lot of good businesses down, including Futurize Now. But give credit where credit is due: the Siegel-Tucker team broke the customer-driven-company ice.

  2. […] Il Business Week in merito al tema dell’innovazione guidata dall’utente analizza il caso dell’IdeaStorm della Dell che si propone di elevare il consumatore finale a co-produttore, attraverso un processo di coinvolgimento attivo nella fase di progettazione dei prodotti. Don Tapscott e Anthony D. Williams affermano che si tratta di un atteggiamento che si propne come svolta eccitante e di lungo termine, mai visto prima nel mondo del business. […]