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Tag: customer

Encouraging Customer Self-Organization

TrendPOV

Here is a repost of an interview with myself by Dr. Amy Vanderbilt at TrendPOV.  I like Dr. V for her ability to really draw out the best in people.  Here she tackles a topic of great complexity and makes it feel like an everyday conversation.  If you ever have an opportunity to work with Dr. V you will be deeply rewarded with the outcome.

On a side note, I felt so comfortable that I forgot that I was on air – you can see my eyes wandering, yikes.  Next time I’ll tape a sign on the ceiling that says “Look Down”.  Anyway – it’s an interesting topic so please watch and let me know what you think.

From Trend POV

Social media is no longer just a way to reconnect with friends; it has become an integral part of daily life that is rapidly gaining traction in the business world. Social media now provides a format for customers to self-organize in a way that creates a competitive market for goods and services where both the customers and the vendors can benefit. The depressed economy has brought people together to share advice and zero in on great deals through group buying.

As defined on Wikipedia.com, “Group buying, also known as collective buying, offers products and services at significantly reduced prices on the condition that a minimum number of buyers would make the purchase.” Originating from China, group buying, called tuángòu grew from the practice of haggling and has now infiltrated the online world in many parts of the globe. Notable sites include Groupon, LivingSocial and MyCityDeal.

Unlike China’s deal strategy that is self-organized and executed, most of the group buying in Europe and North America is done using online intermediaries who charge vendors fees that can be as much as 50 percent of the deal. Group buying has been gaining consumer popularity for three years now; however, group buying in the business sector is still in its infancy. Despite Groupon having over 100 million subscribers that had bought over 60 million Groupons by September 2011, skeptics suggest the trend will not last.

Consumers may be getting saturated by email overload from deal sites competing for their attention. China is struggling amidst accusations of selling fake goods; almost a fourth of the 6000 group buying Web sites shut down in 2011 and those still operating are losing money. But group buying is probably not yet dead. As Dan Frommer said on businessinsider.com, “The future of group buying is on mobile devices. Why? Because they’re always with you, can identify your location via GPS, and can access a network of real-time, instant deals.” If businesses can engage customers and retain loyalty, group buying may have a bright future.

To turn this trend into an advantage for your organization, consider the following. Customer self-organization is going digital. Selling to groups can increase profits. Use social media to drive customer self-organization. Group-selling is not for gaining new customers. Instead, try group-selling for exclusive products and services and rewarding loyalty.

 

When The Customer, Supplier, And Competitor Are The Same

NPR ran a story today about how drug companies are not the only ones making money inventing new medicines for the market. A man in Massachusetts has brought three drugs to market almost on his own.

His process is the same as the big drug makers, but he farms out each aspect of the process to independent labs and specialists. When the drug starts to succeed in trials, he sells it to one of the big companies.

Who competes with whom?

This is an example of how human infrastructure can replace physical infrastructure.  The standard process for creating a new drug is to build a large building and fill it with smart people and expensive equipment and surround it with parking lots.  The cost can easily exceed 60 million just to bring a drug to trials – the man in Massachusetts can do it of less than 6 million.

Mitigation of risk, waste, and social burden

Not only are market victories less expensive, but so are market failures.  Hundreds of thousands of hours are saved in commute times and millions of miles stay off the freeways. “Independent Lab Specialists” are in fact, independent and don’t need to migrate from company to company chasing the next project.

As the article states, every step in the process for approving a drug is the same – without the unnecessary physical infrastructure. Sure, virtual work has been around a long time, the difference is when the corporate structure itself shifts to a series of small integrated corporations.

If virtualization can revolutionize the medical industry – it can revolutionize all industries.

Social Flights is attempting to revolutionize the Aviation industry in a similar way.  Large Hub Airports represent physical infrastructure through which people and airplanes are sorted and matched.  The majority of US commercial traffic passes through Hub Airports. Yet, the majority of passengers are forced to drive a substantial distance to reach a hub departure.  Then they fly to a place that they have no intention of going only to transfer to another plane that also is not going where they intend to go. Finally, they drive a substantial distance to get where they really want to go.

The congestion and physical footprint supporting large airports is substantial. The burden on both the local and distant communities served by the hub airport is severe.  Thousands of people and vast resources are deployed to support the infrastructure, not necessarily the value proposition to the passengers or the communities.

The Airlines need to understand that their customer is the community, their supplier is the community, and their competitor is the community.  If they lose track of any one of these pillars, the system will become ripe for disruption.

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