Dell’s IdeaStorm: still co-creation?

Nowadays, the strategy called co-creation has taken the business world by storm and many firms try to hop on board. Co-creation allows companies and customers to interact with each other by  creating a customer experience that is valuable for both parties. On one hand firms get a better grasp of the wants and needs of their customers, while customers on the other hand feel that their ideas are valued and their needs get fulfilled.

One of the companies that participate in co-creation is Dell. Dell is one of the largest technological firms and they have created an online crowdsourcing platform in 2007 called IdeaStorm on which customers can share their ideas and suggestions. IdeaStorm is more than just an online suggestion box as it was in 2007, as it now serves as a platform in which customers and Dell can interact. The idea behind IdeaStorm is that customers are given a direct voice and through this platform online “brainstorm” sessions can be created (Dell, 2016), hence the name “IdeaStorm”. Since its launch more than 16.000 ideas have been submitted and nearly 500 ideas have been implemented.

The platform works as follows: customers post their ideas or suggestions by adding articles. Other users can promote, demote or comment on them. Another way to create interaction is through the “storm sessions” which are created by Dell. In these storm sessions Dell posts a specific topic and users can submit ideas for a limited amount of time. This is to ensure that the discussion stays on-topic and relevant. A simplified summary of the general procedure can be seen below. (Dell, 2016)

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IdeaStorm is a classic form of innovation: the company and the customers go hand in hand to create something new. The benefits are clear, as it is a win-win for both parties involved. The question however is whether this is efficient, as the problem with such a platform is that Dell has to manage a ton of ideas. The problem with this is that a lot of the ideas are not of high quality, as customers can only think from a perspective that they are familiar with. This hinders product innovation.

Another drawback of using such a platform is that negative customer experiences can come to light and the weaknesses of Dell can be seen through. This can be the case when customers demand that Dell fixes certain problems that they have experienced and flood IdeaStorm with their feedback. When one of the two parties starts to experience a decline in the systems’ wellbeing it means that the co-creation efforts have turned into value co-destruction (Plé & Cáceres, 2010).

With the implementation of 500 ideas we can conclude that IdeaStorm has contributed to Dell and created value for them so no value co-destruction has happened as of now. However, it should not be forgotten that the ideas that have been submitted and analysed by Dell should lead to a substantial degree of innovation. If it turns out that a lot of time and money was spent on a small incremental innovation, it may not have been worth it.

Michelle Lam

IdeaStorm (2016) About IdeaStorm,, 22-2-2016.

Plé, L., Cáceres, R.C. (2010) “Not always co‐creation: introducing interactional co‐destruction of value in service‐dominant logic”, Journal of Services Marketing, Vol. 24 Iss: 6, pp.430 – 437.

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