Donal Reddington on mass customization, crowdsourcing and digital manufacturing

CRM at the Speed of Light

Paul Greenberg, a writer and thought leader in the area of customer relationship management (CRM) has, over the last few months, published extracts on his blog from the fourth edition of his book CRM at the Speed of Light.

The most interesting extract from my viewpoint is from Chapter 6, which describes ‘characteristics of the new business model’. The characteristics on the list reflect in particular the evolution of the computer games sector in recent years, but read like a manifesto for a culture of customer-empowerment in any sector of economic activity.

I’ve reproduced an abbrevated version of these characteristics below:

1. The lines between producer and consumer are blurred.
2. The company moves from being the producer or distributor of goods or the provider of services to the aggregator of products, services, tools and experiences to allow the customer to meet the needs of their personal agenda, or in bizbuzz, their personal value chain.
3. The users and producers are engaged in the co-creation of value.
4. The users have the tools to configure and/or customize their personal experience with the product.
5. The users and the producers encourage each other and mutually define the future directions of the specific products.
6. Even though the users are working on the product changes for their own experience, the changes to the product have universal and commercial value and drive the sales of the product.
7. The producer is not just the publisher/manufacturer but operates as an aggregator for the user’s creative interactivity.
8. The user is not just a purchaser but also an advocate of the experience around the product and by extension, the company.
9. There is a collaborative customer experience that provides transparency for the customer into the inner workings of the companies themselves.
10. The companies encourage the customization and personalization of the experience of the customer.
11. The companies and the customers jointly create and provide the tools to make this collaboration successful.
12. In fact, the customization effort itself, not just the result, is part of the experience, thus enhancing the producer/consumer collaboration all the more.
13. The overall effort involves a corporate culture that is defined by the voice of the customer first.
14. The model uses and provides the most advanced technological tools that exist vis a vis the use of the Internet for these globally matriced communities that are interactive and real time.
15. The company and the customer each get value in ways that are appropriate and satisfying to them.
16. The company’s revenues increase accordingly, as does their profitability, given that their customers are doing something freely – and for free.

The full version of the list above, with the context from the games sector, was published by Paul Greenberg last August but only came to my attention very recently. The full version is in his blog post Chapter 6: New Business Models.

The list is a something of a reminder of the 1999 Cluetrain Manifesto written by Rick Levine, Christopher Locke, Doc Searls, and David Weinberger, consisting of a set of 95 theses organized and put forward as a call to action, for all businesses operating within what is suggested to be a newly-connected marketplace. The ideas put forward within the Cluetrain Manifesto aimed to examine the impact of the Internet on both markets (consumers) and organizations.

Paul Greenberg’s ‘Characteristics of the New Business Model’ are the best and most comprehensive description I have seen of the trend towards growing customer/user involvement in the activities of the enterprise.

While the Characteristics were written as a description, they may also turn out to become a set of principles – a goal to be achieved by any enterprise that hopes to thrive in the new reality of an customer-empowered environment. However, while the list is an accurate and comprehensive assessment of the current state of the games sector, it has one omission if it were to be employed as a set of principles for a new business model – it does not foresee a business relationship where the customer benefits in a financial or other tangible way for their contribution towards the increased revenues and profitability referred to in point number 16.

I trust that Paul Greenberg will not object if, in the context of using the list as a set of principles rather than a description of the trend as it currently exists, I would propose dropping the last three words (“and for free”) from point number 16 add a seventeenth point:

17. “The company, in a desire to maintain the long term strength of the relationship, will provide a structure by which the customers whose contributions most significantly benefit its revenues and profitability will receive tangible benefit for their efforts in recognition of their contributions, or where the contributions are of a suitable form, facilitate and encourage their free trade directly between customers.”

I have to declare a point of view here – I am strongly of the opinion that customers, who may contribute significant effort towards the development of a product or service, should have something to show for their effort in addition to the intrinsic benefits that flow from their participation in user creativity.

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2 Responses to “CRM at the Speed of Light”

  1. Paul Greenberg Says:

    I entirely agree with you on 16 – I think that they should be compensated for their efforts, though what that compensation is will vary widely. I’ll drop the for free when I get the edits back from the publisher. I think that you’re right.

    Thanks for the feedback.

    Paul Greenberg

  2. Donal Reddington Says:


    Glad to contribute. The existing text of no. 16 is no doubt an accurate reflection of some enterprises world view.

    Like you say, the nature of compensation may vary widely.


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