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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