Wharton Customer Analytics

Research Paper Series

Crowdsourcing New Product Ideas Over Time: An Analysis of Dell’s Ideastorm Community

Several organizations have developed ongoing crowdsourcing communities that repeatedly collect ideas for new products and services from a large, dispersed “crowd” of non-experts (consumers) over time. Despite its promises, little is known about the nature of an individual’s ideation efforts in such an online community. Studying Dell’s IdeaStorm community, serial ideators are found to be more likely than consumers with only one idea to generate an idea the organization find valuable enough to implement, but are unlikely to repeat their early success once their ideas are implemented. As ideators with past success attempt to again come up with ideas that will excite the organization, they instead end up proposing ideas similar to their ideas that were already implemented (i.e., they generate less diverse ideas). The negative effects of past success are somewhat mitigated for ideators with diverse commenting activity on others’ ideas. These findings highlight some of the challenges in maintaining an ongoing supply of quality ideas from the crowd over time.

Keywords: Innovation, Ideation, New Product Development, Marketing