SMW NYC 2015: Eric Schwamberger on Being Customer Obsessed.

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My colleagues at Tenthwave co-hosted sessions during Social Media Week, New York 2015 with Like Minds. The proceedings were kicked off by Tenthwave Partner Eric Schwamberger, who also participated at the Like Minds session at Social Media Week, London 2014.

The theme of Eric’s introduction was Customer Obsession and being Customer Obsessed, and what that means to Tenthwave. He framed this within the context of Big Data, which despite its power and the hype is something that he sees as being still very much first generation as far as capability is concerned.
He started by pointing out how it’s usually what follows one of humanity great leaps that is more interesting than the leap itself. For example, if you look at the agricultural revolution then it was the learning to preserve food that was as important as discovering cultivation, and the discovery of fermentation and distillation arguably made it all the more interesting. Eric also highlights the difference between the first and second industrial revolutions, and how the utility moves from benefiting the few to the many.
So if you look at the first industrial revolution is was based on the invention of steam power, and was pioneered by 100s. The second revolution, however, involved 1000s and improved the lives of the masses through large scale iron and steel production, the building of railroads, mass production and the production line, as well as the beginning of the use of oil, electrification and electric communications.
Eric hopes that these anecdotes help illustrate where we are at today in the context of how much things have changed in one generation, which he explained is generally accepted to be about 25 years, i.e. from birth of a parent to birth of child. So if we go back 25 years, he points out that none of us had computers at home; and although some of us may have had computers 15 years ago, we were dialling up to likes of AOL, and that was about the best the Internet was for many. Even 7 years ago almost nobody had a smart phone, and there was no social media for most of us. So there have been huge technological changes in the last 25 years, but despite these Eric thinks there are still limits to what Big Data can tell us well:
“Big Data tells ‘how’. Big Data tell us ‘what’. Big Data tells ‘when’. It doesn’t tell us the most important question marketers want to ask, which is ‘why’!”
But that’s where Thick Data comes in, and Eric briefly explained how the term has evolved from anthropological research approaches in the 70s that help us understand people better. He cites the likes of Danish Management Consultants ReD Associates who derive actionable insights about ‘why’ people do what they do from more ethnographic research methods and other tools from the social sciences. This Thick Data is then used as a framework for analysing Big Data in order to look at actual behaviours rather than just self-reported ones and opinions from traditional market research:
That’s where I think Big Data is going, and we as marketers need to get closer to the understanding of ‘why’. And that’s what being Customer Obsession is really all about because once we understand that we can stop interrupting people’s lives with marketing and begin to improve people’s lives with our products and services..”
Lastly, Eric mentions that the Customer Obsession theme is one that the Tenthwave team are going to be talking about in more details, and people will be able to follow this on the Customer Obsessed blog and by following the #CustomerObsessed hashtag on Twitter.
I’ll be following up this post with a round up of the two panel session that Like Minds and Tenthwave co-hosted at Social Media Week, New York last month.

About the author

Justin is the curator of the Best of Branded Content Marketing (BOBCM) ebook and event series