Spring Conference 2019

Connected Strategy: Building Continuous Customer Relationships for Competitive Advantage


What if there were a way to turn occasional, sporadic transactions with customers into long-term, continuous relationships — while simultaneously driving dramatic improvements in operational efficiency? What if you could build a new business model that breaks your trade-off between superior customer experience and low cost? This is the promise of a Connected Strategy, a new source of competitive advantage pursued by firms across a broad array of industries including Amazon, Alibaba, Google, Nike, Disney, Progressive Insurance, McGraw-Hill Education, Medtronic, Apple, and Tencent.

Consider a few examples: Disneyland, often referred to as the happiest place on earth, might also be in the race for being one of the most connected places on earth. While rides and attractions have mostly stayed the same in recent years, technology has redefined how Disney connects with the visitors. Well before your visit to the park, you now get mailed a MagicBand, a wearable device that serves as your entry ticket, a digital wallet paying for food and souvenirs, and a key to your room. When hungry, you place an electronic order. Thanks to location sensors, your food will find you. When lines get long, technology attempts to convince you that you really don’t want to go to Magic Mountain and instead nudges you to go to another corner of the park.

Textbooks for college students have gone through a similar transformation. McGraw Hill Higher Education, for example, has abandoned the word ‘book’ and instead aims to sell digital learning experiences. Not only are books fully digital, they are also smart. As students go through the semester, technology tracks their reading. When struggling with an assignment, the book redirects the student to the appropriate chapter and offers a short pre-recorded video of how to handle a similar assignment. Professors no longer have to write exams; they just specify the content they want to test, and the smart book creates the exam for them. Exams then, of course, are automatically graded and the grades submitted to the university’s academic records.

In this conference, we will explore how you can

  • Reshape the connections with your customers
  • Find new ways to connect with existing suppliers while also activating new sources of capacity, and
  • Make the best technology choices to support your strategy