Many folks have worked behind the scenes to help build Dell's Digital Media strategy. I'd be hard-pressed to find any single person who has been more influential to me than Wilson Tan. Up until last week, he worked for GCI Group, the PR agency that continues to be a strong partner for our digital media team and for Dell overall. Last week, Wilson told us he was leaving to return home to Singapore to support (and ultimately run) his family's office supply business there, which has been in existence for over 20 years.
I'm writing this post to thank him and to wish him, his family and their business all the best. Beyond that, I'll try to explain why he's been so important to me. It really boils down to this: in my view, blogs (or any other related social media tools) are important, but they are empty technology without the people who make them work.
Several of you may already know this story, but back in April 2006, before Direct2Dell happened, Michael Dell suggested that we start monitoring the blogosphere to find customers who blogged about their issues with Dell hardware and match them up with folks in our Tech Support organization to essentially provide tech support through the blogosphere. Seems pretty simple, but it wasn't. Wilson was the first person I called to figure out next steps. We had talked to companies that offered blog monitoring services in the past, and while they were good for tracking overall tonality or for surfacing high-level discussion trends, they weren't good at getting us the kind of detail we needed. Wilson was the main person who architected the process of monitoring the blogosphere back then, and he's been instrumental in helping us figure out how to better automate that monitoring capability moving forward. That work to monitor and engage with customers in the blogosphere in April 2006 was invaluable—it became the framework for Direct2Dell.
Wilson was my right-hand man throughout the Direct2Dell launch as well. We launched the blog on a Sunday evening. It was discovered by the blogosphere the next day, Monday, July 10. Wilson helped me moderate the less than positive comments as they poured in by the hundreds on that first day. We reviewed each comment together in real-time over a phone conversation. We were still on the phone at 4am plugging away. I remember telling him I was exhausted and needed to go home. He was ready to go at 8am that next morning. Those early days weren't easy ones, but he was there with me day in and day out to make sure I stayed on track with customers. For those next several weeks, we'd spend time each night talking through comments that readers had left for that day. Most times we'd start about 9 or 10pm each night, and Wilson was always a phone call away. Throughout the time I've known him, he's always been that kind of guy.
Wilson & me flanked by Kent Nichols and Doug Sarine from Ask a Ninja
Wilson: It seems that words cannot express the depth of my gratitude. Thank you just doesn't begin to cover it. It's pretty simple: without your valuable contriibutions in the early days and beyond, Direct2Dell and many of our other digital media efforts would simply not be where they are today. You are a true friend who will be missed.
Thanks again for everything, and may you find many successes in the future.