I read two interesting articles about two months apart, one from livework, a leading Service Design firm in the UK who were arguing, with great insight I thought, how Data was the new Oil. Both Ben Reason and Jeremy Walker from livework argue that:
"Data, whilst valuable, is a commodity, and an easily replicated one at that. Therefore as it becomes more widely available its value will drop. Businesses with data products often prop up the price with additional fields of information but this is simply another type of devaluation as the customer is getting more for the same price. We have helped our clients achieve the opposite – more revenue for less data – by developing services around the information. These services provide additional value to customers by understanding how the data fits their business.
This is where the process of refinement comes in. We need to refine the data into services. And these services need to meet the needs and issues of the businesses that information providers hope to sell to. The issue is that, whilst the geek in all of us gets very excited about raw data, business customers are more interested in the immediate challenges that they face. These challenges will be things like effective marketing campaigns, back office productivity or asset management etc."
The other article was from Forrester Research and Dave Frankland. He also agreed with the livework team:
"According to Amazon's former Chief Scientist, individuals will generate more data in 2009 than in the combined history of mankind. Think about the implications for your marketing and overall business. On the one hand, it is possible to know more about every prospect and customer, and to improve their customer experience based on what you know about them. On the other hand, it's very easy to drown in the exponentially growing stream of data. Customer Intelligence (CI) professionals sit at the nexus of this data explosion, while also dealing with tectonic shifts in customer behavior, and an increased demand for marketing accountability."
Dave goes onto say that given the strategic value of the CMO role, he believed that the next generation CMO's will come from the Customer Intelligence discipline. That’s not to say CMO's won't continue to care deeply about the brand, and the emotional connection that they create with their customers. But, as they struggle to engage with empowered, connected customers who have limited tolerance for marketing, firms will elevate CI within their organizations to influence mission critical business decisions with data-driven insights. These CMOs will help their organizations to focus on customer value, and use it as the connective tissue that causes all marketers and business units to pull in the same direction."
And that's where we tie the knot and arrive back at how Service Design can and should play a key part in this process. Its the ability to focus on customer value first and then use this data to develop new and better services that create value for both company and customer. Have a read of both articles which I have linked to above.