Monday, February 14, 2011

Scaling Passive and Active Customer-Centric Innovation

Those familiar with my approach to 'social media' will know I think the marcomms element is a happy outcome rather than a primary objective.

The marcomms-first approach - best characterised by the phrase 'using the channel of social media' puts the cart very much before the horse, in my view.
You get efficient, contagious and joined-in with marcomms as an outcome of the really juicy value creation bit of our digitally enabled socially connected lives.
But the juicy bit is better-fitting innovations. (Image courtesy RachelVoorhees)

If you involve the people for whom the product or service is intended you get a product or service which is a better fit with their needs. And that's customer-centric innovation.
The outcome is better for the customer and since better fit equals more sales that means better for the producer (assuming you can maintain margins, of course).

Working with small groups of customers to co-create is not new. Scaling that is.

For example just three or so years ago no one would have written a blogpost to tell the world they were having a cup of tea. Too much effort to go to.
Now, with tumbling technical barriers to entry for anyone to publish their thoughts (no matter how 'trivial' when viewed by traditional criteria) 135k conversations about tea are published in a single month in the UK alone.

All those tweets and Facebook status updates, (forums and blogposts too) reveal how people are using a product, why, where and when, and what they do and don't like about it. And how they'd make it better - if only you gave them a chance.

Gathering what they have to say, analysing it and sharing the resulting data and strategic insight with the right part of any organisation (for action) can be described as Passive Customer Centric Innovation.
You ask no questions. You require nothing more of your customers and potential customers. But from their open publication to their peers and the world, they provide you a low-cost fast track to innovation to mutual advantage.

The second, Active Customer Centric Innovation, takes the same gathered data, identifies (through nodal network analysis) the most appropriate members of communities and invites them into a process of co-creation with key stakeholders. This requires their active engagement; and rewards for their skills and knowledge.

In both cases the key outcome is a better product - one your customers like more.
The marcomms benefits are a happy bonus - and all the better for being derived this way.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone so I may have to tidy it up later ;-)

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The rate of change is so rapid it's difficult for one person to keep up to speed. Let's pool our thoughts, share our reactions and, who knows, even reach some shared conclusions worth arriving at?