Dell is Listening and driving product development as a result

SCapling    October 20, 2015

Organization Name: Dell Inc.


Industry – Computing Technology

Contacts: Richard Binhammer, Shree Dandekar – Senior Director of Business, Intelligence and Analytics at Dell Software, Bill Johnston, Dell’s Director of Global Online Communities, Barton George – Director of Dell Computer Division

Web referencesDell, Social Media Explorer, USA today, Hub Spot, Briefings Direct, Youtube, Readwrite

About Dell

Dell is a privately owned multinational computer technology corporation based in Round Rock, Texas USA. Dell provides technology solutions, services and support for laptops, netbooks, tablet PCs, desktops, monitors, servers, storage, security and mobile. The company’s long standing foundation and success stems from its, direct sales business model which transitioned to encompass direct to consumer sales in 1996 when the company internet site took off.

That direct buy model also provided the organization the opportunity to keep in closer contact with their end user customers and Dell launched its first social media outreach team in 2006, before Facebook pages even existed.


Shree Dandekar, Senior Director of Business Intelligence and Analytics at Dell Software tell Briefings Direct “In 2006, when the internet and the true value of blogging and everything was just becoming more relevant. That was a turning point in the way we did customer care and the way we engaged with our customers. We realized that people are not only going to call an 800 support number, but are going to be much more vocal about it through sources like social media blogging on Twitter and Facebook.

That’s how our journey in social media began and it’s been a multi-year, multi-investment journey. We started looking at simple listening and monitoring. We started looking at simple listening and monitoring. We built a Social Media Command Center. And even before that, we built communities for both our employees and our customers to start interacting with Dell.

Listen to an audio interview with Shree Dandekar sharing “How Dell Converts Social Media Analytics into Strategic Business Advantages” with Briefings Direct 

As an early adopter of a new platform and uncharted territory they had to “learn as you go” and in 2010, Dell launched their Social Media Listening Command Center not only as a way to monitor and manage customer feedback but to utilize customer interaction for product improvement and new product development. Social media command centers are a concept growing in popularity with businesses large and small around the world.

Their Social Media Listening & Command Centre is doing more than just provide conversations to respond to, it provides customer driven innovation to the organization which helps with strategy and product marketing decisions. And by the numbers, Dell must be is paving the way having developed almost 500 implemented products as of May 2012. Some of their listening resulted in Dell’s first backlit keyboardwider sales for Dells in electronics storesrack-mounted blade workstations, and for Dell to offer Linux pre-installed.



Bill Johnston, Dell’s Director of Global Online Communities commented, “Ideas don’t happen in a vacuum, and there aren’t just single points of inspiration, we need to have a culture of innovation that encourages iterations and mashups of ideas.” 

listen sign

Idea Storm

One of the most popular communities they built was called Idea Storm. This was a community that invited and encouraged customers to join in and share their ideas for product improvements they wanted to see. This community was formed around 2007 and to date, there have been close to 550 different ideas from this community that have been implemented in Dell products”, binhammer concludes.

USA today interviewed (2012) Barton George – Director of Dell Computer Division

Through its Idea Storm site, Dell has taken in more than 17,000 ideas for new or improved products, and adopted nearly 500.

Other times, Dell puts its own ideas on IdeaStorm, in what it calls a Storm Session, to get feedback before going ahead. On May 6, Dell posted a plan on IdeaStorm describing a proposed specialty laptop, upgrading an existing machine to target people who write wireless apps and other Web-based software using a variation of the Linux operating system called Ubuntu, George said.

By Monday, customers had posted 83 ideas for refinements to the machine on IdeaStorm, covering specific software bugs to broader issues such as whether the screen should be shiny or not. In addition, 35,000 people visited George’s Web posting about the new laptop — 10 times more than any other posting he’s ever made, he said. The laptop is due on the market by year’s end (2012). Dell says the process produces more detailed feedback than traditional focus groups, and builds links to an important group of customers. Read more

listening = learning


Dell actively listens to its competitors’ conversations – “We look at what the [competitive] conversations are about as related to our business, says Richard Binhammer, including the conversations about competitive products and services, industry issues, and individual competitors.” Read more


Additionally they started their own Social Media and Communities University program (SMACU). We started training our internal users, our employees, to take on social media with over 24,000 Dell employees having undergone social media training. Some 3,000 of them have completed three training courses and become internally certified to use social media on behalf of the company. There are sales, customer service, legal, executive, and marketing and public relations folks are among the graduates.


When rolling out a new product or making changes to features of an existing product, companies often experience criticism from their current customer base. While much of the hoopla dies down pretty quickly after customers adjust to the change, sometimes there are legitimate user experience and design issues that your team didn’t identify during development.


Leverage your network before launching products to solicit the feedback of people you trust. The great thing about social media is that your network probably consists of not only current customers, but also prospects, target customers, and industry influencers. Getting a wide range of feedback on new products and features — whether they are easy to use, whether they are worth developing in the first place, or what should be next in your development queue — helps keep your ear to the ground and get the all-important community buy-in for greater adoption rates at launch time. – Read more

Analytics and big data enable data capture from vast and disparate audiences, which can lead to sharper insights and better decision making. Leading manufacturers can see how people are using their products, as well as what features are and are not popular. They can then leverage that information to help prioritize which new features to include in the next generation of products.

Continuing the product development eveloution

Dell continues to not only to collaborate with their communities on product development, they are now awarding their communities. this year they are  introducing the inaugural ‘Dell World Impact Awards.’

Delll world impact awards

At Dell World this year, Dell will showcase how a handful of innovative Dell customers are using our solutions to drive positive outcomes for their organizations and the world in the areas of big data, cloud, the Internet of Things, mobility and security. They have selected six category winners, and are looking for their community help to name the first-ever Dell World Impact Awards People’s Choice winner. A $20,000 Dell product prize package will be donated to a charity of their choice.


Lessons for others

In a today’s social savvy society, using feedback from your customers about your product, industry topics and competitive conversations is equally savvy and can provide a complex picture for your marketing and executive teams to utilize.

Social media provides that opportunity to listen and engage but the number one rule in any relationship is – be a good listener – and Dell has clearly proved they are a good listener, listening to customer needs and wants and using it to implement the ideas in product development s which is something we can all learn from.

However, many people believe social media information is a no or low cost resource and although social media monitoring for product development can provide a wealth of data when done properly it can require dedicated staff to manage it. For an organization like Dell the amount of feedback could have been overwhelming, but they envisioned it an they were prepared for it having dedicated teams in place from the onset. Data gathered needs to be sifted through, considered and analyzed appropriately for validity and usefulness which may be a significant drain on your resources and more than your organization can handle if you not ready for it.

Therefore, you have to be more than a good listener you have to be a smart listener or you may simply add to your social media struggle.


Submitted by: scapling  University of Waterloo

To contact the author of this entry please email at