Today you are Just Another Customer of : That key piece of data they wish you didn’t have.
Think about how you book tickets today before you fly. Then think about how your dad booked his tickets 20 years ago. You open Kayak, farecompare.com and airasia.com on 3 seperate tabs and it’s the data, your prefences and the credit card in a silent testimonial to the reality of low prices when the middleman is killed. Your dad had to call that dodgy agent downtown. Pre-Internet, it was the golden age of Information asymmetry.
Think books/movies. Years ago you could read the testomonial of one or two flatulent snobs about their view on that book or movie and you had to take a leap of faith based on a source data that violated all you were taught in beginner stat classes about valid sample size. If someone made a shoddy movie or penned a crappy book, they could confidently count on the galacial speed of information flow, a few corrupt ‘critics’ and fervently hope to recoup costs before word really got out. Now you have the review section of amazon, metacritic.com and the mother of them all for sheer speed of information dissemination : Twitter.
What you don’t have to suffer today, Praise the Lord=Google, (and your poor dad had to) is Opaqueness. Kayak, Amazon, Tripadvisor, ebay, consumerreports.org have made sure of that.
Yet even today margins in entire sectors of the economy still continue to depend on opaqueness to survice and prosper. Think Consulting. Investment Advisories. Realtors. Lawyers. Government. Like vampires, the sunlight of informational symmetry will kill them all instantly.
Today you, Just Another Customer, have access to more and more information and it is exactly what most companies don’t want you to have. One of the key goals of the lobbying industry is to ensure this remains the case for their respective client(s). But much to their chagrin, in many sectors, thanks to Google~Internet , any claims made can be counterchecked and is. Any price that they claim is lowest can be scanned from ‘about 14,800,000 results (0.22 seconds)’ . That last one was an actual result on google for ‘review movie a serious man’. One of my closest friends in NYC is all about living with this reality and ensuring his SEO strategy is superior to the competition. It usually is. But every day is a fight.
As more and more empowered defiant recalcitrant customers get access to vast pools of data, companies that are not offering a real value proposition at a competitive and transparent price will find themselves in a very tough place. Jeff Bezos proved that with Amazon and Pierre Omidyar with ebay.
So what are you doing to ensure a customer or competitor armed with that most dangerous of weapons (Information) can’t nuke your business model ?