Everyone along the value chain benefits from learning more effectively, but customer learning is going to receive more than its fair share of the attention. Why? Because knowledgeable customers buy more, are less likely to defect to the competition, and pass the word along to other potential customers. Also, because while executives may choose not to invest much in developing their own employees, everyone agrees on the wisdom of building stronger relationships with customers.
Mercer Management points out that while sellers have so saturated the consumer market with goods that it's differentiate-or-die time, "in most industries there is abundant next-generation demand, because a wide range of higher-order customer needs are going unmet. These needs involve the broader economic issues surrounding the product rather than the strictly functional needs met by the product alone."
Mercer is talking about stuff like life cycle cost management, capital cost reduction, process streamlining/integration, reduced value chain friction, and risk minimization.
These are learning deficiencies. Another reason customer learning is going to be so important.
(Internet Time Group is digging into the topic right now.)
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