The Differentiation Scale

Brands can be made or broken by how an organization establishes itself in the marketplace. Technology establishes its value to an organization, and its customers, in a similar fashion.

As CIOs work with their internal partners and IT teams on strategic planning and the daily operational blocking & tackling, they should consider where current technology stands as to negative, neutral, or positive differentiation. Customers no longer just use technology, they experience your organization via technology.

Negative differentiation: Technology that is absent, broken or limited. The most prevalent example is poor reliability > networks or applications that are down, degraded or insecure will create poor perceptions not just of the technology, but of the organization. Response time expectations are getting shorter and shorter, even split-second delays can cause customers go elsewhere. Ignore gaps in the technology portfolio that are negative differentiators at your organization’s peril.

Neutral differentiation: Technology in this space doesn’t particularly differentiate your organization, but if you don’t have it, you are disadvantaged. Technology moves from innovative to ’5 minutes ago’ at an escalating pace. CIOs don’t want to wake up one day and find that the competition has implemented technology to such an extent that it is expected – and their organization is lacking. It wasn’t long ago that the existence of mobile application was considered bleeding edge. Not any more; people expect to go to their mobile device and interact with your organization. People also expect that when approaching (or being approached by) your organization, whether in person, via phone, or digitally, you know who they are and can customize their experience (also known as ‘delighting the customer’). For most organizations, the bulk of the technology portfolio is probably in this space.

Positive differentiation: Innovation lives here, but not for long. Wearable technology, ultra-fast broadband, home automation are a few examples. CIOs should be thinking about which of the plethora of innovations could be positive differentiators for their organization; and move to implement swiftly, before the competition applies it to such a great extent that it moves into the neutral zone. The challenge here is to prioritize; avoid the trap of trying everything but not implementing anything.


CIOs and their teams need to partner with their business counterparts to correctly identify where technology sits along the differentiation scale, to ensure  enhancement of, not damage to, the customer experience and ergo the brand.


FCC adjusts stance on net neutrality. All consumers of internet services (so I guess that’s everyone) should pay attention to this topic.

Mark your calendar for New Hampshire Broadband Conference on May 16.

Mobile addicts are apparently include middle-aged parents. Interesting insights as to who (other than CIOs, of course) are the most heavy mobile users.[The+Rise+of+the+Mobi]

Speaking of mobile addiction, check out UNH’s mobile application suite.

Comments? Questions? I look forward to hearing from you.





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