Sixty (iii)

He paused again. I think I mumbled something like ‘right, yes, I think I see what you’re saying’, if only to utter the sound one expects from the to and fro of conversation.

“And now I can answer your question.”

I had, to be honest, slightly lost sight of the question and I was thankful when Saket repeated it.

“Why do I relegate customer-centricity? To answer that, let’s first return to the definition of marketing: the process by which companies create value for customers and build strong customer relationships in order to capture value from customers in return.”

I indicated I was holding on to the thread.

“Let’s abstract that a little and see where it might take us. What if I said it like this? The process by which thingummies create value for wotsits and build strong relationships in order to capture value from wotsits in return.”

This time I gave Saket a look I’m sure wasn’t flattering.

“Seriously. Stick with me,” he said. “Let’s do some word substitutions. How does this sound? The process by which employees create value for companies and build strong relationships in order to capture value from companies in return.

“Or how about this? The process by which companies create value for investors and build strong relationships in order to capture value from investors in return.”

I half-smiled.

“In other words, every single individual, for each of her many roles in life, seeks to establish relationships to create value, of one sort or another. And perhaps the very definition of a sustainable relationship, and perhaps of society itself, is when such value creation is mutual.

“Today, as nascent as it is, VRM looks to equip individuals in their role as customer. A fork from it – government relationship management – is looking to help individuals in their role as citizen. Longer term, we’ll simply seek to equip and empower and liberate the individual across all her roles in life – customer, citizen, employee, vendor, supplier, investor, family member, friend, custodian of the planet, etc. You can’t call this a business domain or government domain – although business services will evolve to meet the need of course. This isn’t something I believe you can just label ‘social’ either. This is the human domain.

“Networks of these newly emancipated individuals join together more freely to create sustainable value, and they are motivated to stick together as long as that value creation is mutual and appears equitable and competitive, and so long as our values align too.

“Now allow me the license to describe Attenzi a little differently. Some participants in one particular network have chosen to brand the network Attenzi. Mutual, sustainable value is generated within this Attenzi network, within this system, and no one individual or category of individuals can do it without others playing their part – the right mix of others at the right time. It’s a natural law. It’s all in the mix. Ignore this, or indeed attempt to act otherwise, and you wither – particularly when facing off competition that does get it.

“That’s why I relegate customer-centricity.”

“Wow. Thanks Saket. Never a dull moment!”

I knew I was going to have to think about this some more. “So where can I sign up for some VRM?”