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Companies today have access to more data than ever before, but that doesn’t eliminate the need to engage directly with customers.

That’s according to Andrew Reid, founder, chief product officer and president of Vision Critical, in a recent interview with Forbes. Talking to Bruce Rogers, chief insights officer at Forbes, Reid shares why more companies today are become aware of the need to understand their customers. The interview coincides with Vision Critical’s recent 15th anniversary.

“With the advent of social media, customers can wreak havoc on brands if they so choose, which is why brands now realize that their last point of competitive differentiation is customer engagement,” Reid says, adding that the wide availability of data today doesn’t replace the need to talk to customers. “I always like to say that until we get to some magical place where you can read people’s brainwaves and you can read their minds, you have to have a two-way conversation. You can’t just infer based on data mining and predictive analytics alone.”

In the interview, Reid also opens up about Vision Critical’s humble beginnings in 1999 when his father, renowned pollster Angus Reid, asked for help in building a website. As a young digital media professional, Reid saw an opportunity to disrupt market research.

“Right away I started to realize, ‘Wow, we could do a lot to make participating in research more intrinsically motivating,” Reid shares. “We could probably do some things to make this data more engaging. Then we started hashing out this idea about leveraging a database so that we didn’t have to ask people the same question over and over again.”

Reid says the fact that we are now in the age of the empowered customer bodes well for companies that are prioritizing customer centricity.

“Everyone has access to the same technology, the same kinds of people, materials and supply chain,” Reid explains. “Customers are your most important asset and you need to understand how to leverage that in the best way possible.”

Please go to Forbes to read the full interview.

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Kelvin Claveria

Kelvin Claveria was the former Content Marketing Manager and was responsible for Vision Critical's blog and social media marketing program. Before joining Vision Critical's global marketing team, Kelvin worked at Dunn PR, a Vancouver-based public relations firm. His experience includes working with lifestyle, real estate, and non-profit clients to develop social media marketing and PR strategies. Kelvin has a Bachelor of Business Administration from SFU's Beedie School of Business.
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