(The following blog entry is a re-post of my article from www.successfulworkplace.org)
In the late 1990’s, early 2000’s, the book Who Moved My Cheese? An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life was a popular motivational book by Spencer Johnson. It addressed the issue of experiencing change in one’s work and life and possible reactions to those changes. The premise of the book is that mice in a maze are rewarded for finding cheese. When the cheese moves, some go in search of it while others keep coming back to the same place, weaker each day.
Boom!! With the explosion of mobile devices, analytics, higher bandwidth and social media, it may be time to re-read a not-so-old classic. The frequency with which business paradigms are shifting is ever more rapid and compressed. We blink and discover the cheese just moved again. We need to be serial cheese-finders.
Corporate cheese finding
Companies are no different. For them, the cheese is found at the intersection of the customer’s preferences and loyalty. When things move rapidly, some companies will double down on finding the same cheese in the same place while others will see the change coming and begin to change tactics. Like the characters in Johnson’s book, businesses today have three paths to choose from…they can ignore change, worry without making a decision, or act and take advantage of the situation.
The biggest challenge to finding the new cheese is tradition, especially traditions (processes, techniques, skills, personalities) that have been most successful in the past. Traditional businesses will find their data in traditional sources, analyze using the same methods and execution will continue through the same channels. Look no further than Borders, who did not adjust when their cheese moved and their customers began buying books online and using tablets and e-readers. Border’s is now extinct and its stores are closed.
The quicker you let go of old cheese, the sooner you find new cheese
Businesses have an opportunity to “own” their customers by focusing on their preferences and making the offers more personalized. Everyone enjoys feeling important and special. There is a restaurant that my family and I frequent that serves a great set of curry dishes. The prices are comparable to a similar restaurant across the street. But at this particular restaurant, the chef/owner knows who I am, knows my voice on the phone for takeaway orders, and uses my name when he sees me. With that kind of personalized service along with the good food, it makes it me loyal to his restaurant.
More importantly, he stays close enough to me to know my changing tastes and preferences.
In contrast is another example of one of my local grocery stores. They have a great idea of providing coupons to you when you are checking out. The intent is to provide us with more incentive to come back. Unfortunately, they are not products that my family has purchased in the past, nor are they products we intend to buy in the future.
They don’t know me and probably never will. Their cheese will move and they’ll never see it coming.
When you move beyond your fear, you feel free
With paradigms shifting so quickly, many are having a difficult time changing. They are following the human tendency of sticking with what they know while their cheese disappears, revenues drop and customer-base deteriorates.
The businesses and marketers that take advantage of the new information sources, data management techniques and intelligence tools available and deeper insights into their markets will have a much greater chance of success. They can be my favorite restaurant, but with scale.
Move with the cheese and enjoy it
With change occurring with increasing frequency, the companies that are nimble, proactive and embrace change are the ones that will thrive with each shift of the market or customer. These will become “anti-fragile” because they are able to adjust and even capitalize on change. These companies are more likely to survive and thrive as the economy and the buying habits of customers change. Those that are reactive will always be behind the competition and the distance between them will grow. Those that do nothing will no longer be in the race.
Did you blink? The cheese just moved again.
Last week, I posted Big Data: Mountain of Differentiation stating my observations on the potential differentiation and disruption available to Communication Service Providers (CSP’s) through Big Data.
Needless to say, I was pleased to read this week’s post entitled Big Data for Telco Begins to Unleash Systems of Engagement by Brian Hopkins of Forrester Research, a well-known, prestigious market research firm that focuses on IT and Telco trends.
In his post, he states “In our recently completed Q3 2013 Global State Of Enterprise Architecture Online Survey, big data for real-time analytics moved from the No. 3 most revolutionary technology to the No. 2 position, according to the 116 enterprise architects who participated. This reflects the importance firms now place on turning vast amounts of data into immediate insight. And this trend is extremely important to telecommunication industry communication service providers (CSPs), who are sitting on a gold mine of data about what subscribers are doing on their mobile devices.”
It is always enjoyable to see a firm like Forrester Research align on shared observations and viewpoints.
Big Data has become the generic term for the massive amounts of data businesses have accumulated during the course of their operations. There are ongoing discussions on how useful it might be and how it can be used. By applying the right analytics software to the data, most believe it can lead to new efficiencies, improved business processes, lower costs, higher profits, improved customer experiences, services and loyalties.
Communication Service Providers (CSP) have an absolute mountain of Big Data within their domain that is clearly untapped – or at the very least under-utilized. Is this a missed opportunity for differentiation? Let’s take a closer look at their current business model and assess if there are new possibilities.
Mobile CSP’s revenue streams are based on service usage and their major costs are subscriber churn, device subsidiaries and keeping their networks current. To differentiate themselves from their competitors, they focus on devices, price plans and network. The problem:
- They all have the same or similar devices and price plans.
- They all claim the fastest 4G/LTE network.
Within their domains, they have available both real-time and “static” or near real-time data. A small subset of available real-time data includes:
- Currently active identity and device(s)
- Current location, presence, availability
- Active content
- Charging preferences, prepaid balance
- Minutes and data usage
A small subset of “static” or near real-time data includes:
- Real Name and Billing address
- Number of devices
- Web-sites accessed, searches made
- Friends and Family, Business associates
- Defined preferences
- Content and genre purchased and downloaded
For CSP’s that also offer wireline, broadband and video services, this list can grow to include number of devices in the home, devices active, channels watched, time of day, days of the week and many more data items.
Each service provider also has multiple third-party partners that augment their services. These partners are also going to have more information about subscribers relevant to what, how and when services and content are accessed and utilized.
With 10, 20 or even 100 million plus subscribers initiating a combined millions of transactions each day, all of which gets distilled into data records, that is a massive amount of data that can be used to establish insights and intelligence about subscribers and understand their preferences.
Identity and Master Data
All of the above data items are tied together by the mobile number/account number which acts as the common Identity or primary key of the subscriber. By using master data management techniques such as centralization, virtualization and federation, CSP’s can establish a single, universal view of the individual subscribers.
With ongoing advances in analytics software, CSP’s have at their finger-tips the means to truly understand how their services are used and by whom. They can also define, redefine and fine-tune market segments, demographics and buying characteristics. As a result, it doesn’t take much imagination to brainstorm a list of ideas for service providers to:
- Personalize the service experience
- Develop enhanced loyalty management programs
- Enable targeted advertising specific to the individual’s preferences
Are there opportunities for service providers to differentiate themselves beyond just price plans and devices? Absolutely. There is a mountain of Big Data available to make it happen. With just a subset of the available data, there is much more that a service provider can do to enhance the experience of their subscribers. The category of personalization alone can create a whole new set of ideas and innovation.
Corner Office Wisdom:
In order to think outside the box when it comes to finding new opportunities and enhancing your business, sometimes you just need to look inside the box.
In seeing the Iron Man heads up display for the first time, I thought – “Wow! That’s awesome!”
Google is planning to release a cool piece of new technology called Google Glass. If you haven’t heard of it, it is a pair of glasses to be worn by a person providing them a heads up display – very similar in concept to the Iron Man graphics.
With a simple tap of the finger or using voice commands, the wearer will be able to access and use Google Maps, Google+, Gmail, take photos and videos and share them with social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Google Glass is an open platform allowing third-party developers to create applications for it. Check out this demo by TechCrunch. Now Google will not only have your finger-tips but also your eyeballs.
Through mobile devices and social media, retailers and advertisers have been able to accumulate massive amounts of data about their customers. By analyzing this information (big data), they have been able to gain deeper insights into the buying habits of customers such as where and when customers made their purchase. Was it done online, or was it at a retail store and which location, time of day and day of the week? Retailers also have more detailed customer feedback, such as, did customers “tweet” about it, give it a “like” or not, was it easy to use or wear, was the service good when customer service was called and was it recommended to others.
The goal of every advertiser is to grab your attention. With a display just an inch away from your eyes, advertisers and retailers all over are salivating at how they can take advantage of this technology. Combined with all of the information they now have available, it is a given they plan to use it to further build and reinforce their brands. Loyalty marketers will be anxious to draw you back into their stores with “we are just around the corner” notifications.
It will be interesting to see if there will be any new value-added services that become available with Google Glass or if this will only be a new platform with a new rendering for existing applications. It will also be interesting to see if there is any adjustment in market share between Google, Apple and the other major vendors of mobile devices.
From a technology perspective I can’t wait to try it out. From a cost perspective, it’s pretty steep at $1,500 each although the price is expected to drop to $299. While it’s not a full Tony Stark/Iron Man experience, it’s easy to see how it can get there.
It appears that Google Glass does have some challenges ahead as the United Kingdom’s Department of Transport is putting together “Don’t Glass and Drive” legislation. Perhaps with Glass 2.0, Google will also market arc-reactor powered jet boots along with it.
Corner Office Wisdom:
It’s not for everyone at the initial starting price of $1,500.