Keith Brody Keith Brody Director - 5thPosition Ltd.

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About product-centricity (I think Cato has a point)

  • I might have misunderstood his recent blog, but a line Cato wrote jumped out at me anyway -- in part because I was thinking the same thing driving home in the car this afternoon.  Sort of.  The line was this:

    “…As a result Customer touch points are product related.”

    What I think Cato was saying, among many other things, is that the moving force behind most decisions and actions in the telecoms world is the contemplation of one’s own navel.  He went on to imply, rather adeptly, that when it came to two-sided business models and suchlike, that approach probably wasn’t a good idea.  Or at least that’s the conclusion I drew (apologies, Cato, if I’ve got the wrong end of the stick.  Wouldn’t be the first time, eh?!)

    Put another way, those in the telecoms market (on all sides: service providers and the vendors who supply their infrastructures – hard and soft – alike) ought to stop being so bloody self obsessed when it comes to how they see the world (and make customer touch points that, shock, are customer- instead of product related instead.)

    I actually came to this viewpoint as a result of thinking about marketing rather than technology and in particular the ubiquitous use of semi-clad females (the sort of thing I think about when driving, to be honest) in adverts for various FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) products over the past quarter century.  For beer.  For cigars.  For clothes.  For, well, you name it.  Not that attractive, semi-clad females have anything to do with any of those products at all.  But hey ho…the mass consumer market seems to have concluded that customer touch points don’t, actually, have to be product related at all (note to self: when in hole, stop blogging.)

    Where I’m going is this.  There is absolutely no question in my mind that those of us who market and communicate in technology industries fall far short of putting the customer first; worrying about both what customers really want and what they really want to see and hear.  In my experience, far too many of us build a world on our terms (product-centric), talk about it in our language (product-centric), sell it in our way (product-centric), and manage it to suit ourselves (product-centric).  When, occasionally, we do do something different, it’s only because we want to (or we’re ready to), though we tell the customer we’re doing it for him or her.  This innovation is usually a new wrinkle on product-centricity.  Thus, in reality new business models and old business models are almost invariably simply the business models that work for us -- probably because we don’t want to and our infrastructures won’t allow us to think freely outside our product-centric box.

    “Freely” is the key word here.  It’s the solution to Cato’s dilemma, I think.  Product-centricity ends when telecommunications operators have an infrastructure that frees them from the necessity of reverting to type.  But even then, I suspect old habits will probably die hard.


    Keith Brody
    About Keith Brody Keith Brody works as Director at 5thPosition Ltd.
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