1toEverything: Innovation using the customer's eyes

Bruce Kasanoff
Managing Director
Now Possible
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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 Customise.

The 1to1 mantra basically goes: identify customers individually; differentiate your treatment of customers based on their needs and value; interact individually with customers; then customise 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…

For example, look out your window. Outside mine, I see a rhododendron, some bamboo, and some 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 fertiliser in the late fall.
  • Customising 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 15 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 internalise 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 endeavours 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.


Bruce Kasanoff is managing director of Now Possible. To visit his blog click here.


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