"Michael Dell: I don't really remember when I
first heard about it. I can tell you when we first got serious
about it as a company."
"We have this thing called "Ask Dudley," which is an online tool
that customers use to get technical questions answered -- you can
ask it a natural-language technical question like, "How do I get my
modem to work?" Or "Why doesn't this driver work correctly?" Or
something like that. Basically it does word association; it takes a
word, another word, and comes up with what it thinks the answers
might be to the question. One of the most interesting things to
look at is "What are the words that people are asking questions
about that we don't have any answers to?" A couple of years ago,
the number one word was "Linux." If you went to our site at that
time and you searched for Linux, there was nothing there. So we
said, "We'd better get serious about this real quick because
obviously a lot of our customers are asking about Linux and we're
not doing anything to help them."
"Then I started going out on the Net and searching for "Dell
and Linux," "Optiplex and Linux" "Dimension and Linux," "Inspiron
and Linux," "Precision and Linux," and Boom! You'd see hundreds of
thousands of user who had figured out how to use our products with
Linux, and we hadn't done anything to help those people
either. So, we knew there was clearly a market here and we
needed to do a better job of catering to that market. At the same
time, we started to have more and more inquiries from customers:
the scientific community, the technical community, dot com
customers, small businesses, a few large customers. So we got more
serious about it."
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