Comments on The Magic of Abstraction

Eric Kavanagh has just published an interesting article…

The Magic of Abstraction: Hierarchy Management and Decision-Making, at tdwi. At first I was a little put off by its highly academic style, but in fact it was very thought-provoking. This whole area of hierarchies is fascinating to me, but perhaps not from quite the same angle as Eric’s. I look at hierarchies, and particularly organizational hierarchies as a tool that can significantly increase field productivity, reduce costs, improve customer service and play a key role in compliance management. This subject is covered in detail in my Illuminatus Research paper on Organizational Hierarchy Management, although sadly this paper is not one of our free ones.

Eric discussed organizational, financial and product hierarchies, but one key category he did not mention that I am particularly interested in is household hierarchies – usually rolled up under the organizational hierarchy umbrella. This is a reflection of John Smith having the same address / telephone number as Jane Smith, and hence being assumed to be in the same household. The idea of this concept seems to offer all sorts of additional sales and service possibilities that might broaden a company’s market to a whole network of previously unaccessed hierarchies and customer prospects.

Of course, it also seems to smack a bit of ‘big brother’…


Posted in Imported, Web/Tech.

One Comment

  1. My first reaction (Ronan knows I have a cataloguer background) is “householding, ugh!”
    Certainly, there is value in understanding the relationships between customers, and when you are mailing catalogs, knowing the “household” is important. For the cataloguer it is cost containment. For the customer, it is overall experience. No one wants a box full of duplicate (or perhaps any) catalogs.
    My “ugh” comes from the cost to execute householding, the error margin (even greater now with cell phones replacing land lines) and the actual occurrence of households in your customer base. If you average less than 1.5 people per household, then it might not be worth the expense. Like anything, the value proposition needs to be explored.
    In your paper, do you touch on understanding other, non-hierarchical relationships between customers? I’m thinking gift recipients, itinerary change contacts, wish list browsers, social network contacts? I read a piece in the NY Times earlier today on Computing 2016, which touched on the power and danger of analyzing relationships. As you say, “big brother”.
    Here’s that link:

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