RELATIONSHIP TECH

Good products and services are cocreated:

The desires of customers grow out of what is possible, and what is possible is made real by companies following new customer desires. Because creation in a network is a cocreation, a prosumptive act, a multifaceted relationship must exist between the cocreators.

Cocreation and prosumption require an information peerage. Information must flow symmetrically to all nodes. In the industrial society, the balance of information inevitably sided with corporations. They had centralized knowledge while the customer had only their own solo experience divorced from that of all but a few friends. The coming network economy has changed that. Each new layer of complexity and technology shifts the action toward the individual.

The intent of networked technology is to make the customer smarter. This may require sharing previously proprietary knowledge with the customer. It may also be as simple as sharing what the company knows about the customer with the customer herself.

R-tech tries to rebalance the traditional asymmetrical flow of information, so that the customer learns as fast as the firm (and so the firm learns as fast as the customer). At first the idea of focusing on “learning customers” instead of the “learning company” seems misplaced. But it is part of the larger shift away from a view of the firm as a standalone unit and toward a view of the firm as an interacting node in a much larger network–a diffuse node made up of customers as well as employees.

 

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This is a blog version of a book of mine first published in 1998. I am re-issuing it (two posts per week) unaltered on its 10th anniversary. Comments welcomed. More details here.
-- KK