Are we entering the era of ‘collaborative exchanges’?

Colm is the editor of MarketingTech, with a mission to bring the most important developments in technology to both businesses and consumers.

Is the era of organisation-led customer interactions being replaced by a system where the locus of control is negotiated between brands and consumers in collaboration?

A new report, titled From UX to CX: Rethinking the Digital User Experience as a Collaborative Exchange, from the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy and Capgemini Consulting contends that we are entering a new era: that of ‘collaborative exchanges’ (CX).

Based on two years of research with customer-facing organisations and analysis of the ways customers interacting with brands, the report contends that control of customer experiences is now ‘owned’ exclusively by neither brands and consumers.

CX results from two developments that have resulted from digital transformation:


Customers are actively participating across an organisation’s value chain in ways that have not been seen before.

not only do today’s customers want to engage with the brands they like, they also want to share their own expertise

Firms are finding success and helping to drive value by finding a balance between sharing internal activities while also satisfying specific customer needs.

It seems that not only do today’s customers want to engage with the brands they like, they also want to share their own expertise and really value being asked their opinion.


The second development is the importance brands are placing on collecting and leveraging consumer data. Consumers are happy to give data to brands as long as they feel that it is directly leading to a more personalised or generally improved customer experience.

“The fevered pitch for the development of algorithms that better understand and predict customer preferences seem to suggest that the future of customer experience lies on the laurels of data science alone. In fact, customer engagement must be understood through the lived experience of the consumer herself and is subject to the heuristics highlighted by behavioral science too,” senior lecturer and research scientist at MIT Sloan School of Management, Renée Gosline said.

“In a desire to welcome a new age of digital technology and prescient algorithms, firms must be mindful of the human element when it comes to user experience and work hand in hand with customers to create collaborative exchanges.”

Fostering collaboration

The report contends that there are a number of different collaborative options for brands to pursue based on where they are located on the intersection of the participation/information relationship.

Recognising which of these options is best suited to their brand, firms will be able to build successful collaboration exchanges.


Hosts gather user information by opening up their value chain to shared participation.


These companieswork alongside customersso that shared participation and user information is leveraged to update customer experience.


Advisors use user information but keep tight control over the kind of participation that is available.


Directors use controlled customer participation and information to provide services.

For CX to be successful, both the organisation and the consumer need to be willing to give up a degree of control. CX is a two-way flow whereby the exchange results in extracted value for the business and an enhanced lived experience for the customer.

both the organisation and the consumer need to be willing to give up a degree of control

The report states that: “Getting the balance right is key to create a win-win exchange.”

Didier Bonnet, executive vice president at Capgemini Consulting said

“Marketers are told daily that the success of their actions lies with analytics, algorithms, and AI. Of course, this is massively important.

“But what we see clearly from this research is that, in this digital economy, the human element remains as important as ever. Only when brands are able to strike a balance between data analytics and behavioral science will they be able to drive win-win exchanges with their customers.”

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