MIS Quarterly Executive


Web 2.0 technologies present an opportunity for firms to create online communities where users engage in value creation by submitting product reviews, providing feedback, suggesting ideas, and identifying new sources of innovation. Our research suggests that there are four major challenges associated with successfully integrating an online user community into an organization’s innovation processes: understanding the ideas posted, identifying the best ideas, balancing the needs of transparency with the community against disclosure to competitors, and sustaining the community. In this article, we analyze specific aspects of these four challenges that became evident during the first 18 months of Dell IdeaStorm, Dell Computer Corporation’s online user innovation community. We describe the recommendations that we initially posted on Dell’s site for improving IdeaStorm and the responses we received. The article concludes with seven recommendations for how to overcome these challenges, which we believe can be used by other firms to leverage user innovation communities using an open model with social media tools.