MAD Perspectives Blog

 The New Buzzword for 2014 - Context

Peggy Dau - Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The goal for every business in 2014 will be to understand or provide context. What is context?  It is "the circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood and assessed". We've often heard of the news taking a celebrity or politician's statement "out of context". We know that this causes confusion,conflict and possibly alienation. When applied to business this can be deadly. The goal for 2014 is for companies to put their products into context for their customers.

How can they do this? Or, why aren't they doing this already? The focus on context has escalated thanks access to more data.  Yes, Big Data provides us with greater insight about the obvious and not so obvious needs of our customers.  How?  By tapping into the online, real-time conversations available thanks to Social Media. The challenge is figuring out what to do with all that data once we have it. The first step is establishing a goal as to how the data should be used. If we imagine that we want to sell a product into a specific vertical market. We may want to understand how our customers: 

     - would use the product or what problems the product may address

     - with what other products or solutions our product would integrate

     - market forces driving customer need for the product

     - financial factors 

     - individuals or business influencing the buyers decision making 

While the functionality of a product or the use of a service may be well defined, the perception from the customer's side may vary based on their business. For example, addressing the needs of storage solutions for media companies versus life science business requires putting the features of the storage solution into context. Both businesses require storage as they must retain high volumes of data. Both businesses collect, analyze and utilize stored data within a defined business workflow.  However the use of data that describes media assets or of data that impacts patient care is dramatically different. The context in how a storage company may position their solution for each industry must align with the needs of the customers within that industry.

We have been anticipating personalized products and services for years. With greater data sources (more on that in a future blog), improved analytical capabilities and increased focus on the customer (finally!), context is finally front and center. Marketers, product developers, entrepreneurs and customer service professionals must put their customers first.  Context is a two way street. For companies to succeed they must understand the context of customer need and then reflect that need in their communication and interaction with customers.

What's your perspective?