Inside Knowledge Magazine /Knowledge Management Magazine Archive
Volume 8 Issue 7
The customer is king. Where have you heard that before? For decades companies have been pledging to put the customer first, and for a while it seemed the emergence and widespread implementation of customer-relationship-management (CRM) systems would allow firms to make good on their promise. CRM applications theoretically allowed organisations to personalise the customer experience. By storing data on past interactions and patterns of behaviour, and placing that information at the fingertips of customer-service representatives, who might also have access to a system detailing what to do or say in any potential transaction scenario, CRM would take the customer experience to the next level.
Well, that was the plan. In reality, CRM systems were simply a means for businesses to convince customers to spend more money. The buyer/seller dynamic remained as one-dimensional as it always had been and, today, the situation isn’t much different. But watch this space. According to Jan Wyllie, writer of this month’s cover story (page 14), a new economic reality is emerging, one in which the buyer will seize control. As the world’s oil supplies dwindle and consumers tame their desire to spend, collaborative communities and knowledge-sharing networks will play an increasing role in empowering the customer. As Wyllie explains, there is already a wealth of precedents, and suppliers will have to take heed if they are to ensure their survival in a buyer-centric marketplace.
And it is not just customers’ purchasing power that is set to increase. Consumers are also beginning to have a greater influence on the design of the products they buy. Philips is one manufacturer that is tapping into the co-creation trend (page 25), but there are plenty of other firms that have recognised the latent power of customer creativity. Car-makers BMW and Peugeot, the healthcare division of General Electric, US office-supplies retailer Staples, computer-gaming giant Electronic Arts: all have realised that user-led innovation offers a powerful alternative to the traditional market-research-led product-development process, which, studies suggest, is only successful 25 per cent of the time.
It seems, then, that after a number of false dawns, the balance of power is shifting. If the trend towards customer empowerment continues – and there is no reason to expect that it won’t – the customer will indeed, finally, be king.
By Simon Lelic
Masterclass: Zen and the art of taxonomy maintenance Part IV
A masterclass covering the creation, implementation and maintenance of taxonomies in a corporate context. Part four: implementation and maintenance. By Jan Wyllie
Case study: Nestle UK
Meeting the demands and needs of employees through the development of an employee self-service intranet. By Nigel Holt
Case study: Philips
Increasing consumer involvement in product-innovation processes at Philips...
Case study: Baker & McKenzie
Embedding knowledge sharing within the organisational culture of an international law firm. By Jason Marty
The customer is (finally) king
The buyer-seller relationship is changing. Driven by shifts in the global economy and fuelled by the proliferation of knowledge-sharing networks and collaborative communities, the customer is finally taking charge. KM practitioners in turn will play a key role in the transition from a marketplace dominated by seller/push, to one increasingly characterised by the emergent buyer-centric model...
KnowledgeWorks: Crossover KM
The importance of knowledge work to a growing raft of organisational disciplines. By Jerry Ash
KM toolit: Lost in translation
Global organisations face a new challenge: presenting corporate information and communicating in a way that takes into account local sensibilities and linguistic requirements...
The knowledge: Richard McDermott
Richard McDermott has set himself a tough challenge: to help change the way businesses in the western world use, and compete on, knowledge...
Trend tracker: Search market
The wait for fourth-quarter and end-of-year financial results in the enterprise-search market brought with it an unusually high level of suspense this year...
Thought leader: Chris Collison
My wife has a new occupation. From 9.00 to 3.00 on weekdays, she has been entrusted as the sole carer for Freddo, our eight-year-olds Tamagotchi. For the uninitiated among readers of Inside Knowledge, a Tamagotchi is an electronic pet, which requires feeding, praise, discipline, medicine and play at frequent intervals...