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“Connected Strategy: Building Continuous Customer Relationships for Competitive Advantage” – a HBR Press Book Review

Connected Strategy - book review

A HBR Press book review by

“Connected Strategy” takes a look at an old dog that is learning every day new tricks: the promise of beautifying the customer relationships for every organization. When one looks at the complexity of the modern technology , it is easy to get lost. How can artificial intelligence, machine learning, big data and the mobile transformation change so much the marketing interactions field? 

Nicolaj Siggelkow and Christian Terwiesch are taking the topic further. The new mantra for the executives spells out that “technology changes radically the way we interact with the customers.” All good, but how? And don’t we need a structural way of approaching these changes? In “Connected Strategy”, the Wharton Professors take a rather high level approach, by focusing on the connected strategies, rather on the technological nitty-gritty field.  They try to stay at that level throughout the whole book – which is probably good, given the large amount of segmented approaches on the market.

The key point of the book seems to me transforming the occasional customer interactions into continuous long term relationships. It is interesting how the authors take a few classical strategy, operations and marketing themes and blend them:

  • The strategy maps of Kaplan and Norton – to build your organizational roadmap,
  • The sales steps from Tracy – to automate the customer approach,
  • The value chain from Porter – to deploy your product to customer’s needs,
  • The directional policy Matrix from Shell – to bring the strategy pieces together.

In fact, “Connected Strategy” ties the knots really nice in a customer-focused matrix, where they summarize the available potential strategies. This is not to say that the book is a compilation of various management concepts – in fact, Nicolaj Siggelkow and Christian Terwiesch highlight nicely that “disruption comes from somebody that is playing a different game”. This means that the organizations must stay on a continuous alert and scan the market for changes. Otherwise, they easily risk being left out of very profitable market avenues.

The book is actually quite far from taking an exclusive view – and it is hardly arguing that you should navigate through all of the corners of your organization. In fact, they argue for focus – focus the whole organization by using a customer perspective.

“Connected Strategy” benefits largely from a systematic approach to strategic options. It is easy, especially for the battled executives, to get absorbed in the heat of everyday’s battles and postpone the ultimate goal of every company. Fortunately, the customers and their needs are out there, on the market – and the technologies can really deliver the promise of long-lasting relationships. There are many companies innovating on this front – from the obvious Amazon example to Disney or Netflix. In fact, “Connected Strategy” is rich with examples – without putting them upfront the theory itself. So if you are interested on how you can remain connected to the market, no matter what sector you are active in, I encourage you to have a look at this title.

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