The Customer Knowledge Advantage is dedicated to the notion that firms can achieve sustainable competitive advantage by transforming data from and about customers into something more–call it insight, if you like–that cannot be easily duplicated by others because knowledge resides in people, not in a collection of facts.

I first floated the notion that customer knowledge can be a competitive advantage in a paper that Mike Lotti–then VP and Director of Business Research at Eastman Kodak Company–and I presented at ESOMAR Consumer Insights in Vienna, Austria, in 2004. We defined customer knowledge as the understanding of customer motivations, attitudes, perceptions and experiences such that we can predict customer behavior.  In other words, customer knowledge leads to a “theory of the customer.” Knowledge creation usually follows an implicit process that resembles the explicit process that researchers adopt when they apply the scientific method to develop theory.  Around the same time we were preparing our paper, Clayton Christensen and Michael Raynor described the same process in the realm of management theory (“Why Hard-Nosed Executives Should Care about Management Theory,” Harvard Business Review, September, 2003).

The subject matter for TCKA includes just about everything related to the acquisition, analysis, and interpretation of customer-generated data, with an emphasis on the challenges that firms face in transforming those customer-generated facts into insight and knowledge.