4 Ways Your Customers Are Shaping The Future Of Your Business

Dan Wellers

This just in: Your customers are no longer trapped on the receiving end of your value chain. With instant access to peer reviews, competitor offerings, and prices, they’re advocating for customers give directionnew products and services while openly and instantly communicating their likes and dislikes.

In my last blog, I discussed the search for answers on how  technology is reshaping the way businesses and governments engage with their customers and citizens, empower and inspire their workforces, optimize their resources in real time, and harness the potential of social and business networks. But these interactions are not a one-way street.

Thanks to technology, customer passivity is a thing of the past. And they’re exerting their new-found power through 4 major trends:

  • Physical and virtual experiences converge. If click-and-mortar businesses offered consumers the first glimpse into a converging physical and online world, the next wave of technology innovations – such as embedded sensors or Google Glass – will merge the two worlds into one. Consumers in Seoul, for example, can now use their mobile phones to shop for groceries from virtual stands at subway stations and have the physical goods delivered directly to their homes. Businesses are inventing entirely new experiences that allow their customers to seamlessly traverse the online, mobile, and physical worlds.
  • Products start remembering. A walk down any aisle of an electronics store reveals customers sampling products on shelves while comparing, discussing, and purchasing them on mobile devices. More products will be smart; that is, they will remember how, how often, and where they are used – all the while offering massive amounts of information to their producers and customers alike. Using Big Data analytics, businesses will uncover unseen opportunities – even predict their customers’ next moves – to delight in ways never possible before.
  • The prosumer arrives – finally. The idea that consumers can help design and produce the products they consume has been around for almost 20 years. With the increased adoption of cloud and mobile technologies, we have reached a tipping point where customers can, and in fact demand, to be active contributors in the value chain. For example, consumer product companies are crowdsourcing new product designs from their consumers. Even advertisers are increasingly turning to the public to help them create their next big hit commercials.
  • Hyperpersonalization kills mass marketing. The days of mass marketing and prepackaged products and services are numbered. Today’s customers increasingly reject one-size-fits-all business models in favor of their unique requirements. They expect everything to be tailored to their individual needs and will quickly go elsewhere – or, when possible, make it themselves with 3-D printers or go through local makers. The future will be one of hyperpersonalized, make-for-me products and services.

Companies will have to engage and co-innovate with customers across the entire value chain and extract insights from ever-increasing data streams – increasingly in real time – to keep pace with increase in customer power.

Do these trends sound right to you?

To see what noted author and business strategist Don Tapscott has to say about how customers will shape your business, check out this video.

This is #2 of a 5 part series titled “First Thoughts on the Future of Business”.  You can read the rest of the series at:

#1. Explore With Us: What’s Next for the Future of Business

#3. Three Ways The Power Of The Individual Will Change The Future

#4. The Future Of Resource Optimization: Responsibility In Real Time

#5. (Back To) The Future Of Business Networks


About Dan Wellers

Dan Wellers leads Digital Futures for SAP Marketing Strategy.