Friday, September 15, 2006

Marketing as HCI/d?

It occurred to me today that the heavily-evident connections in the systems inside of my head are not easily made by those outside of my head (go figure). So for those of you who are wondering about the not-immediately-obvious connection between marketing and the field of Informatics/HCId, please allow me to explain.

The field of what i would call business-consumer relations has undergone some fairly large paradigm shifts over the last thousand-or-so years. To be clear, business-consumer relations, in my mind, includes fields otherwise known as product development, sales, marketing, pricing, customer relationship management, and a few others. Some of the major shifts within this area have occured along the lines of consumer knowledge, participation and entitlement.

1000 A.D. (private, local economies)
  • consumer knowledge of the product and of the business: HIGH - the vendor was often also the manufacturer, and the product was simple enough to understand (quality, design) immediately
  • consumer participation: HIGH - consumers were involved with the vendor/manufacturer personally, since they probably knew them as neighbors
  • entitlement: HIGH - if the product was defective, the vendor would see the customer around town daily. in addition, bad word-of-mouth would spread rapidly
1800 A.D. (industrial revolution)
  • consumer knowledge of the product and of the business: LOW - products became more complex as did the businesses that produced them. the distance between business increased
  • consumer participation: LOW - consumers were no longer involved with the businessowner personally, and became mere consumers
  • entitlement: LOW - businesses held most of the power. in addition to labor being subject to industry's whims, so was the consumer
1980 A.D (Duran Duran era)
  • consumer knowledge of the product and of the business: MEDIUM - the rise of Ralph Nader and Consumer reports helped to create educated consumers, now aware of the "man behind the curtain"
  • consumer participation: MEDIUM - consumers began to band together and "participate" in business by forming buying blocks, demanding safety standards, ethical business practices
  • entitlement: MEDIUM - consumers began to demand that businesses respect the consumer
2006 A.D (still the Duran Duran era, in my book)
  • consumer knowledge of the product and of the business: HIGH - massive internet information from both professional and amateur sources provides everyone with information about business practices and products
  • consumer participation: MEDIUM - businesses are now trying to find ways to actively involve consumers in the business, pursuing new methods such as WOM (word of mouth marketing), ECC (experience co-creation) and various other sundry acronyms
  • entitlement: HIGH -consumers have been mistreated and mislead for a long time, and they are now empowered by information and massive interconnectivity to demand good treatment from companies
So here's the HCI/d to business/consumer connection:

It is clear that we're living in an age of historically peculiar traits with respect to consumers and businesses. These include
  1. massive consumer interconnectivity
  2. massive amounts of publicly, instantly available information
  3. massive consumer publication and participation
Any time the words "massive", "public" and "participation" co-occur, the antennae of HCI/d practitioners should start twitching. Connected computers (the Internet) is the first medium in history that allows for the facilitation of "massive public participation". As i see it, one of the great challenges ahead for HCI/d is to become expert in the creation of efficient spaces where consumer/business interactions can occur, creating value for both in a sustainable way. It will require continued research into group innovation, participatory strategies, value creation, complex systems and a host of other things. In my opinion, future gurus of HCI/d will not be the masters of adding %100 of the design value, but instead the masters of the design of interaction spaces (see Erik Stolterman's very fine ahead-of-its-time essay on conspiratorial design), where the users can then create their own value.


Kevin said...

I'm assuming you saw what is on the docket for the Networks lecture series:

Advances in Relationship Marketing Thought and Practice:
The Influence of Social Network Theory

Connie Porter, Notre Dame University

Monday September 18th, 2006 | 6-7p | Wells Library 001

Social network theory was developed to help conceptualize the
complexities social relations, and modern marketing strategies focus on the complexities of managing relationships with customers. During this talk, I review three dominant perspectives of social network theory that marketing scholars have applied to advance relationship marketing thought and practice. As part of this review, I summarize key findings from the past 25 years of marketing literature that incorporates social
network theory and/or analysis. I conclude by presenting recent trends that suggest that social network theory will become increasingly relevant and important to marketing researchers and practitioners that operate in an interactive marketing environment.

Christian Briggs said...

Yes, Kevin. I am very much looking forward to Connie's presentation. I can confirm that SNA is hot on the minds of many forward thining practitioners in the interactive marketing space.