Close ☰
Menu ☰

The rise of trusted agents

Posted on: Monday 8th of August 2016

In last week’s blog we talked about the consumer decision-making revolution that’s transforming relationships between customers and companies.

Decision-support is becoming a service in its own right, we said. A service that adds tremendous value (if done well, in a trustworthy way) because a better decision leads you directly to the product or service you are looking for. This, in turn, changes what value companies add (is it decision-support or better products and services?), and how both consumers and brands go to market.

So it’s good to see a recent interview with John Hagel, whose books Net Gain (1997) and Net Worth (1999) did much to explain how the economics of information would transform how markets work. This is what he said in the interview:

“The challenge is all of the companies today, the leading companies in the tech space, Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple are heavily advertising dependent or transaction dependent,” Mr Hagel told The Australian Financial Review during a trip to Australia last week. “I think the friction will occur when [people say] ‘how can I really trust you as my adviser, if you’re being paid by an advertiser, or making your money off the transactions? Do you really have my interests in mind?'”

There are opportunities for new businesses to enter this space, as a third-party intermediary, to help consumers sift through all the different products and services vying for their attention, Mr Hagel said.

But, these new businesses will need to prove themselves to consumers.

“It gets back to the trust. ‘Because, you know an awful lot of about me … how are you going to use that information? Are you going to use it for more benefit or are you going to use it to somehow make money in ways that are not going to be helpful to me?’ The winners, we think, are going to be those who are able, and through the economics of their business, really deliver on that fact that ‘no, I’m your agent, I’m representing you, I’m not trying to represent others to get to you’.'”

We’d disagree with John Hagel about one thing. It’s not really true that Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple are heavily advertising dependent. They are very different beasts. Apple is a purveyor of premium products. Amazon is an online retailer.

But on his central point he is spot on.

That’s what our September 29 conference on Achieving Growth Through Trust is all about.: how to turn trusted use of information (including personal information) into the massive value creating opportunity it is.