The Disruption of Choice
By Jim Lundy
Across many industries, the power of individual choice is disrupting business models. In part, the current wave of digital disruption and business transformation is due to the fact that consumers have more choices—and far better access to information to make those choices—about how to acquire and use technology.
They also pass on this information to their peers, along with opinions and recommendations about every purchase. Moreover, in an age of mobility, they can do this from anywhere at any time.
And those peers…are your customers.
Choice Empowers the Consumer
Today, consumers have much more information about the products they use—and much more influence over how others view them. Social networks have given everyone a loud voice, and it gets louder as the network grows. This is true of workers as well: The BYOD phenomenon has taught us that the power of individual choice can cripple the strongest IT asset management policies and force them to change. To retain either customers or employees, enterprises must listen to those voices.
The next generation of business will not only be digital, it must also be people-centered. Businesses have to revisit old operational models and customer relationship strategies and update them to reflect the new reality of empowered workers and consumers. The power of choice has triggered a paradigm shift in our personal and business lives.
Choice Disrupts Customer Relationships
Companies historically had a monologue with customers: Their dissemination of information was one-way and very controlled. Now, however, customers can talk back, not only to their suppliers, but also to influence other customers and prospects. A disaffected customer can start a negative campaign on social media in seconds. Companies have to adapt to a changing environment in which they no longer control the message.
When we talk to thought-leading business and marketing executives, we hear many similar stories of how they have had to realign their strategies to focus on these newly-empowered consumers. Through the feedback loop that marketing communication has become, their customers now participate in their business decisions and strategies. They are becoming customer-focused enterprises, forced to provide solutions to problems that customers want solved, rather than just releasing the products that they want to sell.
The monologue is over; a dialogue has begun.
Choice Disrupts and Redefines Business Roles
It is therefore not surprising that in this era of intense consumer focus, the enterprise CMO is becoming more important, often leading the charge for digital transformation. Digital marketing strategies are making the CMO and the marketing business area key technology buyers. The CMO’s influence has expanded throughout the enterprise, infusing other key business units with marketing awareness and consumer-centricity.
The disruption of individual choice has put the customer at the center of business strategies and made improving the customer experience a high priority. It has also created new disciplines in analytics that, by helping us understand consumers and their behaviors, can yield valuable insights and better business decisions. Companies that know more about what their customers think are more likely to predict their buying behavior, and therefore gain a competitive advantage.
We’ll cover more about the customer experience, digital business and innovation in upcoming research.