Big Data and Intermediaries

Dateline: March 28, 2014

Welcome to our Friday WRAP – one thought-provoking idea to think about over the weekend.

Recently, professor, researcher, entrepreneur and author Dr. Tom Davenport published his newest book, Big Data at Work.  He also published a blog about “Book Publishing’s Big Data Future” on Harvard Business Review’s blog network. In that blog, he writes,

In my book I talk about “disadvantaged” industries with big data, and one category is industries—like automobile manufacturers and consumer products companies—that have an intermediary between them and their customer. Publishers are in the same boat, but the boat is changing. What publishing industry statistics suggest is that while book publishers have always had intermediaries between them and their customers, their intermediaries have now become much more data-oriented. Amazon and Google are two of the most data-driven companies around, and Apple is becoming more so all the time.

That will leave traditional publishers in the cold unless they can somehow establish a direct channel to the customer (as HBR has—you are reading through it now), and through it gather their own big data. The primary goal should be not to sell content, but to extract information and build loyalty. Firms in other industries with intermediaries are establishing such channels; Procter & Gamble has its eStore, Ford Motor has Ford Direct , Coca-Cola has My Coke Rewards. Just as P&G is stuck with WalMart, publishers can’t afford to alienate a big channel like Amazon, but they can work hard to establish or maintain direct ties to their customers.

Does your business have a direct line to your customers or do you go through intermediaries?  How do you gather extract information and build loyalty?

That’s a WRAP!  Have a great weekend.


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