Is Customer Centricity a Disruptive Innovation?

Over the last several years I have worked with many great companies on the development and implementation of Scientific Marketing Strategies. Repeatedly, while customer centric, one-to-one, multi-channel marketing strategies are long on promise, companies practical results often fall short of the goals that hope to achieve.

After much analysis of companies marketing programs and their ability to achieve break-thru results, I have began to think of customer centric marketing strategies thru the school of thought taught to me by my Harvard professor Clayton M. Christensen.  

Professor Christensen describes the abundance of data across multiple industries in detail in his book the Innovator's Dilemma and Innovator's Solution.  In this body of research he identifies that incumbent companies almost never take advantage of disruptive technologies that create new business models.  Examples abound, but to name a few Western Union and Alexander Grahm Bell (the introduction of the telephone), the US Steel industry and the rise of the mini-mills, and more recently Xerox PARC and the development of the mouse and the graphical user interface (GUI).

When we think of disruptive technologies, we often think of new hardware and or software research and development... new engineering breakthroughs.  I pose this simple question for you to consider however; Is Customer Centricity a Disruptive Innovation?

I would argue (and back up with examples) that yes, Customer Centric business models are in fact a disruptive innovation.  As we design marketing strategies for clients these days, we structure the framework for change as we would a plan for disruptive innovation, also including the sage lessons learned in organizational change management pioneered by another Harvard leadership guru, John P. Kotter.

When a migration from a product centric orientation to a customer centric orientation is thought of as a disruptive innovation and managed thru a framework for organizational change, we see customers achieve up to 2x top line revenue growth and significant bottom line improvements over their direct peers.