You’ll may often hear about Google or Apple "getting it" when it comes to community-centric business models, but believe it or not Dell has been taking some of the most bold steps in the direction.
They were one of the first enterprise companies to make their corporate blog a key part of their customer outreach – while Direct2Dell is now a more formal communication channel, it was a fantastic example of using corporate blogs to increase brand equity when it started… how? The messaging showed a giant corporation that was more personalized, humble, and open to feedback.
Next, they were the first enterprise-grade company to use crowdsourcing to figure out new product configurations with Dell’s IdeaStorm. If you’ve sat in any of my consulting sessions on community-centric business models, you’ll remember that the main reason IdeaStorm is fantastic is because it gives the company a much more reliable estimate of demand for product configurations at pretty much no extra cost…. out goes the $$MM market research that was done before that.
Now, they’ve taken a third good step towards outsourcing parts of its core business back out to its customers… it recently opened up its Design Studio where artists from all over the world, and even ordinary users, can submit designs for laptops. Currently you can choose from the top-100 designs to be on the laptop you order.
This isnt the first time someone’s done this for sure (Zazzle , SlimDevices and other companies have positioned their business like their before) – but again its probably the first company of its scale to do this I reckon.
Ofcourse this is the first step – to be really bold, they should try and crowdsource all aspects of product design – even the industrial design and packaging. It could be a horrible mess, OR (considering usual distribution curves) there’s a good chance Dell could find great laptop design concepts that a small mass of niches will like.