1. The world turned upside down

The world turned upside down

There will be many differences between the Industrial Society logic we are now leaving and the logic of the Networked Society that is now emerging. One of the differences is how we look at customers – whether they are consumers or clients and where we find them in the value chain.

In the Industrial Era logic that we are leaving (but which still dominates many businesses), the consumer or the client is the endpoint of the value chain, the final destination for the product or service, and the address for the invoice. These days, however, this logic is being turned upside-down. The consumers and clients are not the endpoint any longer, but are becoming a core asset for the creation of new products and services.

It’s worth remembering that classical value chains were not created with the customer in mind. Instead, they reflect the priorities of the Industrial Era and are defined by the logical steps of production and distribution. Every part of the chain is arranged in waterfall order, from the initial ideas in laboratories and R&D departments to production, distribution and marketing. Although many companies have brought in user-centric design methodologies to put more focus on the user experience, they are still essentially operating within the same value-chain logic. The customer is not part of the value-creation process.

Driven by the ongoing digitization of business and society, a completely new logic is now emerging. Founded on direct contact with a community of customers, this logic is based on value networks, rather than value chains.

This new logic incorporates customer creativity and ideas into production processes in order to enhance an offering and create more value for all parties. In fact, it seeks to involve customers in almost every stage of creating a service or product. Everything – ideas, production, distribution, marketing, iterations and support – can be done in partnership with, or completely by, the community.

If you want to read more about how to include the customer in value-creation activities there is a full-length article in the latest Ericsson Review “Crowdsurfing: using your customers to create value”.

Written by Mikael Eriksson Björling

Mikael is Senior Lead Designer at Ericsson UX Lab and an Ericsson Evangelist. He was previously Director at the Networked Society Lab. His specialty is in understanding how consumer behavior, emerging technologies and new industry logics are shaping the future society and in the intersection of these areas build great user experiences. Mikael believes that with the ongoing digital transformation we have a great opportunity to shape a better world. Mikael joined Ericsson in 1998 and is based in Stockholm. You can engage with him on Twitter at: @mikaeleb or at LinkedIn.


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