Howdy. Yup, that's me in the video interview sporting a Cowboy Hat. I told you I really bought one on my trip to Austin! If I had to sum up my experience at Dell it would come down to two points:
1. Dell is a brand/company in transition
2. Dell's employees responsible for community outreach are both passionate and committed
To the first point, I was able to weigh in and preview several initiatives in progress that relate to both the Dell brand and the customer experience. I can't get too specific here, but I feel the folks at Dell do realize that they need to evolve in order to advance as a formidable leader in their space. Dell's made some new hires in recent months which is a sign that they are committed to evolving. However I think the real Dell story starts with a revolution in their products and the experiences customers have with them. The XPS M1330 is a very different type of laptop for Dell. It's designed for both performance as well as desire—or in other words, it's "Geek Chic". I believe that Dell's transformation is dependent on both their product and experience design (how the customer interacts with the brand). So for me personally, I'm going to be looking at the next generation of products that come out as well as what customers have to say about them.
(Dell XPS M1330)
To the second point—in my personal opinion, Dell has been able to engage their customers by first listening to what they are saying, and then engaging them. I was really surprised to see the level of sophistication at how they do this. I f you think they are relying on Technorati, Google, or even Buzzmetrics alone—you're kidding yourself. They've got more robust ways of doing this (I can't reveal their methods). But suffice it to say that they are pretty efficient. And lastly the team that I met who work in this space are passionate about the medium and all of the tools/techniques that go with it. If you think Dell is doing a good job in this area, then what you have to know about it is that their team is very enthusiastic about the space. I don't think a company can get similar results through assigning a team to these types of initiatives if they're not genuinely excited about it.
In short, Dell is in transition. Personally, I'd like to see this turn into a business case where design (not the pretty kind of design) really makes a difference for them as both company and brand.