1toEverything: innovation through a customer’s eyes

by Bruce Kasanoff on December 7, 2010

Years ago, ambitious marketers looked at their customers and saw a 1to1 future. Today, innovators look through the eyes of their customers and are starting to see a 1toEverything future.

1 is the customer. Everything is every person, creature, element and piece of information on the planet.

My phone identifies songs for me. It tells me which houses are for sale on any given street. I can take a picture of many products, and get instant reviews and price comparisons.

The balance of power is shifting. When you book a hotel room, TripAdvisor puts millions of other travelers on your side, sharing their experiences with you. It’s no longer just companies differentiating customers, but also individual consumers differentiating among everything around us: restaurants, merchants, friends, experts, media, entertainment… just about everything.

I have spent years living and breathing IDIC, which is the 1to1 marketing framework developed by my former partners Don Peppers and Martha Rogers. It stands for Identify, Differentiate, Interact and Customize.

The 1to1 mantra basically goes: Identify customers individually; Differentiate your treatment of customers based on their needs and value; Interact individually with customers; then Customize products and services for each profitable customer.

Not long ago, it struck me you could turn IDIC around and use it to predict how customers are likely to leverage the interactive technologies that are now part of our lives.

1to1 is about looking at individual customers through the company’s eyes. Here’s what IDIC looks like when you look through a customer’s eyes…

Click to enlarge

For example, look out your window. Outside mine, I see a rhododendron, some bamboo, and some (now frozen) lavender plants. My phone, backed by pattern recognition software, is theoretically capable of:

- Identifying each plant

- Differentiating each based on my current needs and interests (which ones need mulch to survive the winter?)

- Letting me interact in an immersive manner with my environment, for example showing me how big a three year old lavender plant should be compared to mine, or having a video pop up to demonstrate the right way to apply fertilizer in the late fall.

- Customizing my next experience in part based on this one.

Nearly anything you see out your window – cars, office buildings, people, the weather, birds, restaurants or billions of other possibilities – can and will be differentiated on your behalf by applications that haven’t yet come to market.

Nearly fifteen years after I first met Don and Martha, my hat goes off to them. There aren’t many frameworks that hold up despite the pace of incredible change around us over these years. IDIC remains an incredibly powerful tool to not only understand potential opportunities but also guide developmental efforts to capture them.

It takes a while to internalize IDIC… but once you do, business strategy becomes much clearer. For example, with 1toEverything, you could take customer segments one by one and use IDIC to create a game plan for developing services that will be useful to each segment.

In workshops I’ve delivered, participants quickly “get” the framework intellectually, but it takes multiple examples and exercises before they fully grasp how opportunities – and competitive threats – become much more obvious thanks to IDIC.

Few endeavors are more complex than predicting what life will be like in a connected world. This is one tool that can make that task a bit less daunting.

Adapted from Smart Customers, Stupid Companies: Why Only Intelligent Companies Thrive, And How To Be One Of Them, by Michael Hinshaw and Bruce Kasanoff, (Business Strategy Press, 2012).

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Don Peppers December 8, 2010 at 6:02 pm

Very nice, Bruce, and thanks so much for the compliments! I think applying IDIC to questions that go beyond traditional CRM and 1to1 marketing issues is a great idea, and I immediately got your logic. It makes great sense, and your illustration is perfect.
EVERYONE in the future will be faced with daily decisions on how to “treat different vendors differently” whether those vendors are hotels and travel suppliers or products or even “objects” in the augmented-reality world we are soon going to inhabit. The new discipline of “VRM” or “vendor relationship management” has a lot to say about this, as well. The modern smart phone provides a perfect platform for apps that will keep your vendor relationships straight, as you IDIC your way around life…

Doc Searls December 11, 2010 at 3:02 am

Thanks, Bruce and Don.

I love this pull-quote (which I’ll use):

“Nearly anything you see out your window – cars, office buildings, people, the weather, birds, restaurants or billions of other possibilities – can and will be differentiated on your behalf by applications that haven’t yet come to market.”

I like to say it’s still only a few minutes after the Big Bang and all we have are a few light elements, a lot of heat, and no galaxies. In other words, its still early. Especially when it comes to equipping individuals on the demand side of the marketplace. The 1 to 1 future is still dawning.

That said, ProjectVRM has been around for several years, and a lot has been cooking in the VRM community. I’d love to have you weigh in with IDIC, and I think it will help. I’ll post something to our list and on the blog shortly. Right now I need to get holiday/family stuff out of the way. So, stay tuned.


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