Archive for the 'Customers' Category

World Water Day: A Value Chain Approach to Reducing Water Usage

Point: Help your customers save water by making better use of your products3375486302_284e1d673e
Story: The UN designated March 22nd as World Water Day, to draw attention to the need to manage this vital resource. Many companies are examining how to reduce their water usage. Some companies are also looking at their value chain of customers and suppliers, helping their partners reduce water consumption as well. JohnsonDiversey, one of the S.C. Johnson family of companies, is a leading global provider of institutional cleaning and hygiene products. Because it sells cleaning products to large companies, JohnsonDiversey explored how it could help its customers reduce water consumption. For example, breweries use five times as much water to clean their facilities as they do to make their product. JD realized it could help its customers improve their cleaning practices. JD audits water usage at customer plants and then shares best practices from among all customers to reduce water usage and costs. The company also helped food and beverage customers in 21 sites around the world save a billion gallons of water in 2007 through its water management program.


  • In thinking about water conservation efforts, look beyond your company’s borders.
  • Examine how your products influence water consumption by customers and consumers
  • Create products that enable less water consumption
  • Share ideas among your customers to help everyone reduce water usage and costs.

Sources: MIT Crossroads presentation by Antonio Galvao, VP Global Plan and Deliver at JohnsonDiversey and JohnsonDiversey’s Responsible Resource Solutions

2 Comments »Customers, How-to, Strategy

Grow Your Business by Growing Your Customers’ Business

prod_small_photo0900aecd8031a14bPoint: The customers of your customers are your customers, too.design_gallery

Story: Cisco Systems makes networking gear for a wide range of customers, from massive data centers to home-office networking routers. Anyone who wants to build an internet-based network is a potential customer of Cisco. But, the bulk of Cisco’s sales go to corporate customers. So when you think of Cisco Systems, you don’t think “cheap video cameras.”

So why did Cisco pay over half a billion dollars to acquire Pure Digital, makers of compact inexpensive digital video cameras? Pure’s consumer-friendly little Flip Video products seem far removed from Cisco’s corporate industrial-grade networking technology.

Here’s Cisco’s logic: Consumer video cameras connect to the networks of Cisco’s corporate customers. Digital video consumes a lot of network bandwidth. Just 5 minutes of decent quality digital video requires over 4,000,000 bits per second for streaming and consumes 167 MB of total volume of transfered data. Multiply that by more the 100 million downloads a month at video-sharing sites like YouTube, and the result is prodigious demand on networking performance at data centers, internet backbones, and broadband internet providers. Thus, the buyers of these digital video cameras are important customers that drive the behavior of Cisco’s big corporate customers.

If Cisco can increase the sales of low-margin $100 digital video cameras, then it can increase the sales of high-margin $1 million high-performance networking equipment.


  • Look at the customers of your customers: their behavior drives your customers’ demand
  • Examine how and why your customers use your product to support their own customers
  • Consider new or expanded applications that would boost your customers’ customers’ usage and thus boost demand for your product
  • Invest in technologies that directly increase that customers’ customers’ demand or that help support the demand.

2 Comments »Case study, Customers, Growth, How-to, Opportunity, Strategy

Measuring the Intangible

Point: Use publicly-available photos to shed light on tourist delightLos ojos del mundo (the world's eyes) by MIT senseable city lab

Story: Barcelona invested heavily to revamp the city to attract tourists for the Olympics and beyond. What places did tourists visit? What did they see and like? What did they tell their friends about? The city can measure tourism dollars, but the intangible experience of pleasure is harder to measure.

The Los Ojos Del Mundo (The World’s Eyes) project helps provide some answers. The project looks at the publicly-available photos on Flickr that people post of Spain. Using data mining and visualization techniques, team members from MIT’s SENSEable city lab plotted photos onto a map of Spain. The concentration of photos shows which places tourists deem most photoworthy and want to share with their friends.

Action: Consider what data is publicly available on your product, brand, or city. Flickr, Twitter and blogs are all rich sources of user-generated photos, opinions or reviews. Analyze which features or aspects of your product are displayed or mentioned. This data helps reveal how customers portray, experience or feel about your product.

For more information: See Los ojos del mundo (the world’s eyes) for full information on the project as well as additional photos, courtesy of
Girardin, F., Calabrese, F., Dal Fiore, F., Ratti, C., and Blat, J. (2008). Digital footprinting: Uncovering tourists with user-generated content. IEEE Pervasive Computing, 7(4):36-43.
Girardin, F., Dal Fiore, F., Ratti, C., and Blat, J. (2008). Leveraging explicitly disclosed location information to understand tourist dynamics: A case study. Journal of Location-Based Services, 2, 1, 41-54.
For more on creative design and the field of information visualization: Information Aesthetics

6 Comments »Customers, How-to, Innovation, Metrics

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