Dell's IdeaStorm

What's interesting about Dell's new IdeaStorm?

1. It's a social site that's not a message board or a blog
2. It enables any member to post a new idea for Dell to act upon
3. The idea is the "currency" of the site
4. It relies on Digg-style "promotion" of ideas to increase the visibility of popular ideas
5. Action on the part of Dell is (supposedly) built into the system.
6. Dell is taking a significant public-facing risk (yay!) right on the heels of Michael Dell coming back to the helm.

On the "Ideas in Action" part of the site, it says:

As your ideas begin to pour in, we will use this page to provide updates on ideas that Dell is considering. We'll also show you how your ideas are being put into action at Dell over time.

The site was just opened on February 16th, so they are just getting started. A couple of things:

The success of the site may be related to how Dell actually handles the most popular (demanded?) ideas. If the members unanimously agree that there should be no more overseas customer support, how will they reconcile the business decisions with the customers' support for an idea?

Asking for ideas is no big deal, but showing that you are actually prepared to act on them is a different thing. When the answer is "nope, sorry", it becomes a justification and education issue. Is Dell prepared to talk to members about the realities of their industry?

People are skeptical about Dell these days and Ideastorm raises the stakes for a company who has been losing to HP lately. Will they show that they can participate with customers and create real, positive change, or will this be another example of a company with good intentions that just couldn't make it happen? If it's the latter, we'll all be hearing about it soon enough - and therein lies the risk.

I'm excited to see Dell put this into the world. To me, it's a great example of how there are endless options in working with customers on the web. I really want to see it work.

Thanks for the tip Sean.