Mutualism, Buyer Centricity and Co-Creation

Great blog entry here from Chris Lawer: Creating Positive Context: Buyer-Centricity and Co-Creation On Chris's academic...

February 4, 2005

Great blog entry here from Chris Lawer: Creating Positive Context: Buyer-Centricity and Co-Creation

On Chris’s academic journey to understand the changing context of customer relationships he has been discussing the links between Alan Mitchell’s view of Buyer Centricity, and Venkat Ramaswarmy’s Co-Creation ideas.

These are two very powerful influential views of the future challenges for marketing, and of innovation. Both are seeking to figure out how things will change as power flows democratically to the individual, and away from the corporation. Are we perhaps staring at a nightmare of confusion of our own making?

“Turning and turning in the widening gyre

The falcon cannot hear the falconer;

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere

The ceremony of innocence is drowned;

The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity…” W.B Yeats, ‘The Second Coming’

Or will knowledge be our salvation.

Alan, like me, is an optimist. He says:

‘the biggest block to increased productivity and efficiency is modern economies generally no longer lies in our ability to make stuff well, but our ability to match (supply to demand) and connect (buyers to sellers) well. Matching and connecting now accounts for over a half of all modern economies’ total activities.’

For me the potential power to connect knowledge to those who might add value to it, of derive value from it, is the number 1 opportunity of modern economy.

The big question of debate is who drives this matching process?

The individual buyer in the buyer-centric model? Or the company in the co-creation model ?

But is the world really so bi-lateral?

Surely the way to move forward is for all information to be uncoupled from the organisations which ‘own’ it, and reconfigured around needs – not around individuals.

Alongside the unbundling of knowledge must come a parallel process of social connection which allows these needs to surface.

Addressing this power and participation question, Alan suggests: “This is where the agency concept is crucial. Unless the entity undertaking this task is working ‘for’ me, why should I invest my time, trust and information in it? Because, after all, my information is now the ‘oil’ that drives every subsequent commercial decision.”

This is perhaps the final piece of baggage to let go of, which Ramaswarmy hints at with the co-creation idea.

We don’t need agents of fulilment, but processes of connection. It is the sharing, not the ownership, which creates value – witness IBM’s recent donation to the open surce movement. Novel combinations of stakeholders; novel combinations of knowledge; Novel experiences. No-one works ‘for’ me per se. They work alongside, lending their goodwill and expertise for a momentary purpose.

Communities are coalitions of the willing that requires constant reinforcement.

In an ideal world, I think agents are an interim step towards communities of purpose.

This is perhaps a more organic vision; more systemic. Certainly more idealistic. Certainly less controllable. Decentric commerce if you like.

This is the course I advocate – the mutual marketing approach. It’s buyer-centricity, looked at through a stained glass window.

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