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Waze to Google: May it go better than many social media endeavors.

by Michael Maoz  |  June 12, 2013  |  1 Comment

For a year or so already, just about no driver in Israel’s metropolitan areas was ever out of finger reach of Waze. Slowly, waves of Waze users have crept into the US. It is fun and useful, especially when you have a companion in the car. One of Google’s first principles is “Focus on the user and all else will follow,” and acquiring Waze fits that and several other of their core tenets. Let’s hope that the combination of Google and Waze adds additional value. There are so many odd edges to other social media programs that this is not necessarily the case.

How is this scenario: you are at the airport sitting in the executive lounge of an airline where you have flown for a long, long time, spent umpteen quid with, and suffered the many petty indignities that are an inevitable byproduct of the true joy of travel (and lest we forget: traveling the world remains an awesome experience). Sitting not far from you in the lounge, the lounge to which you are invited because of the status or miles or money you have expended, sits a traveller who is not a frequent flyer of the airline, does not travel much, does not particularly like your airline, but…. because of a high “Klout Score” has been invited. Yes, his tangled skein of connections to hundreds, or tens of thousands of people through participation in FourSquare and Pinterest and Twitter and Facebook and through the many Instagrams and Vines and Tumblr blog posts and references, has earned him what you got through cold, hard cash.

And the kicker is, when your flight is cancelled and you need to be re-routed, non-frequent flyer guy is the first to the desk and manages to grab the last seat that will lead to your destination – because he heard it first via a buddy on Twitter. Welcome to the new world where interconnections trump your transactional relationship with your airline, and tomorrow your bank, hotel, grocer, and online retailer. And no one at any of these establishments had the idea to let you know that this is happening.

So soon you will be turned down for the better interest rate, or preferred room, or early access to an offer because, despite your relative affluence your lack of interconnectedness with a mass of others leaves your relative value statistically less valuable in the long run. The question is not, “will this really happen,” because it has already begun. The questions will be “do you fall in line, develop a strong network so as not to left behind” and “at what price is it worth it to reveal all of the minutiae of your likes, habits, travels, spending – to keep up your status that once flowed naturally with increasing earnings or credit rating.

Businesses are struggling with how soon do they move into this new world of social connections and clout and affiliation strength and influence – however this may be measured. In the meantime, as you do dip your Marketing toe into this new field, be careful not to alienate your established base of customers that earned their positions the old fashioned way. Nuance will be everything here with this type of probability and gamification approach.

Have any of you begun influence-based perks, incentives, and personalized customer support yet? Let’s here about it.


Category: analytics-for-social-crm  applications  cio  crm  gamification  innovation-and-customer-experience  leadership  social-crm  social-networking  social-software  strategic-planning  twitter  

Michael Maoz
VP Distinguished Analyst
13 years at Gartner
26 years IT industry

Michael Maoz is a research vice president and distinguished analyst in Gartner Research. His research focuses on CRM and customer-centric Web strategies. Mr. Maoz is the research leader for both the customer service and support strategies area and customer-centric Web… Read Full Bio

Thoughts on Waze to Google: May it go better than many social media endeavors.

  1. Mark Hatch says:

    Great post Michael, full disclosure before I begin, I’m Mark Hatch the CEO of mBLAST. We’ve struggled with the concepts of Web Presence you bring up above, especially when it comes to putting a number to it, and bringing some sensible applicability to where it should go. And given the recent flap about privacy and what it means, the topic of your post is very timely.

    One of the things we don’t talk about, in this whole conversation, is the concept of what privacy means now in the larger context. We constantly give away freely clues to who we are. Whether that is liking something on Facebook, helping out with geolocation in Waze, publishing a blog on a favorite topic, Tweeting links, or even commenting like I’m doing here. Those clues can be used to assemble something of an exposed profile of me that is accessible to many more people than it ever has been. That profile can be quite complex if you look across streams and put the pieces together, and very informative.

    Just the Customer Service aspect of this is immense. If you contacted someone for service and they had this information in their system, even if you never contacted them before, and used it to guide them to assist you based on your interests and knowledge, wouldn’t that be a much better experience? If you applied for a position and the system you put your information into matched you to pull up your on-line writing about your area of expertise, wouldn’t that put you above other candidates? If you’re a marketing professional and you’re trying to take the pulse out there of what people think might be the health risks of your product, where those people concentrate both geographically and virtually coupled with where the people are with the highest Web Presence and where they publish, wouldn’t that tell you how to approach the subject and to whom it should first be aimed? Pretty powerful stuff. But at the cost of what we used to think of as privacy. I think what that means is we just have to adjust our ideas of privacy and behave accordingly, and focus on the good as I mention above, and be attentive to what we post.

    Having said that, I’m skeptical of using these scores as anything but indicators, and not as absolutes. In the airline example, a score doesn’t give context, and context is king. Just because someone has a high score doesn’t mean it’s applicable to your business or meaningful at all unless it computed independent of any “gaming”; in other words on exactly what you say where you post. And if the score isn’t authentically representative of the person, then the scenario you describe probably loses you more customers than you’ll gain by using it. If you know someone travels a lot, they talk about it in different places, and post in context, then giving away a lounge membership probably makes good business sense if you get them to use your airline. So this would all even out in the end in terms of money and score. But simply giving away something based on some dodgy score or somewhere where others can pump up your score in categories by just recommending you, is pretty senseless.

    Thanks Mike, interesting to think about this!

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