Chapter 12The Discipline of Collective Intimacy

The discipline of collective intimacy is ultimately based on the perhaps surprising synergy between digital technologies and customer intimacy. Treacy and Wiersema said that companies pursuing customer intimacy offer “unmatched value…not in product or price, but in the extraordinary level of service, guidance, expertise, and hand-holding” that they provide to each client.1 A customer intimacy strategy entails an intimate relationship with each customer; but collective intimacy entails an intimate relationship with each customer enhanced by value-adding insights derived across all customers. To derive these insights requires applying sophisticated, processing-intensive algorithms against massive datasets acquired from customers on characteristics, preferences, behaviors, and contexts, such as genetic sequences, movie and music preferences, electric power consumption, and, well, just about anything.

The evolution to collective intimacy is happening among companies with intimacy strategies in virtually every vertical.

The private-practice physician may not exactly say, “Take two aspirin, and call me in the morning,” but, “Take this broad-spectrum antibiotic and call me in 10 days,” is not that much more advanced. It is being replaced at hospitals such as the Mayo Clinic by personalized medicine, based on data collected from all patients—ranging from lab tests to biopsies to DNA sequences—and evidence based on analysis of pharmaceutical ...

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