Business Strategy

The most important business lesson from Mary Meeker’s 2014 report

The most important business lesson from Mary Meeker’s 2014 report

Last month, Mary Meeker’s annual Internet Trends report offered interesting stats on various technologies shaping the customer landscape today. Mobile, social networks, big data and sensors were some of the topics covered in the report.

In his first article for WIRED Innovation Insights, Vision Critical CMO Tyler Douglas homes in on the various trends mentioned in the report and comes up with the following conclusion: the various themes Mary Meeker mentioned this year highlight the importance of customer intelligence today.

Tyler uses the example of big data to illustrate his point. “From what I’ve seen, big data doesn’t always provide a complete picture,” Tyler writes, commenting on the fact that only 7% of customer data is tagged and that only 1% is used. “Customers are more than transactional data and they are more than what they explicitly say on social. A focus on relevant data and long-term relationships that engage customers directly will help use big data to uncover useful insight.”

The rise of second screen also challenges companies to be more focused on the customer. Tyler explains: “With the proliferation of mobile devices, the marketing challenge is to provide a more engaging customer experience regardless of the medium. Seamless multichannel marketing doesn’t happen by accident though. Delivering a coordinated experience requires talking to customers on a regular basis, understanding their current tech habits and keeping an eye on what’s ahead.”

And while the so-called Internet of Things provides customers and companies with more information, Tyler cautions that marketers shouldn’t rely on this data alone. “The Internet of Things tells ‘what’, but not the ‘why,’” he says. “The data that comes from sensors are all about behavior; it doesn’t communicate people’s attitudes. Assumptions can be made about what people feel and think, but data from sensors alone can’t replace having conversations with customers.”

The theme that spoke most directly about customer intelligence is the notion of “Internet Trifecta.”

Here’s Tyler’s explanation:

In her speech, Meeker introduced the idea of the “internet trifecta.” To be successful, companies need to integrate critical mass of content with community and commerce, according to Meeker. She used the example of Houzz, an online platform for home remodeling and design.

At its core, the idea of the “internet trifecta” is all about relationships. Before the wide availability of the Internet, the shopping experience was one to one. Store employees personally knew their customers, and customers knew each other. In the early days of e-commerce, we lost the sense of community as selling became mostly transactional.

With the notion of the Internet trifecta, Meeker is suggesting that we bring back that sense of community. It’s not just about customers helping other customers; it is also about companies engaging customers through useful content, companies learning from customers through branded and exclusive communities, and companies delivering products and services that provide value. That’s why community is at the heart of this trifecta: it allows companies to tune in to what customers want both in terms of content and commerce.

The dizzying pace of innovation is once again front and center in Mary Meeker’s report. But as Tyler explains, it’s also a reminder that “the speed of innovation doesn’t change the fact that a human-to-human connection with customers is the underpinning of success.” In the age of the empowered customer, the companies that win are those that put the customer ahead of technology.

To read Tyler’s article, please go to WIRED.com.

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