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Research Report

Value networks: Building connections for growth

How to use data-driven insights to create profitable partnerships.

5-minute read

September 26, 2023

In brief

  • Data is everywhere—but it’s going untapped and underused. Companies that don’t leverage it risk falling behind.
  • The solution: Establishing life-centric value networks built on data, insights, and the right to broker to create mutual value.
  • Companies with insights and partnership advantages have more profitable growth.

Data from digital interactions can be a virtual goldmine. The trouble is, much of it is going untapped. Accenture research shows that 60% of companies aren’t using real-time customer interaction data to predict customer preference. Companies that don’t turn data into meaningful insights risk falling behind. However, some have found ways to make their customer data more digestible through deep analytics capabilities that use artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning for better insights. Their approach is life-centric: it builds the business around understanding customers as multidimensional individuals constantly evolving in response to unpredictable external forces.

Our research suggests one strategy is particularly powerful for meeting people’s evolving needs: brokering customer-relevant value networks. Value networks connect individuals with businesses and prompt interactions that are beneficial to the group as a whole. Through these networks, businesses can drive growth in new ways—without significant costs. And customers get streamlined experiences that help (rather than hinder) their decision-making. Creating a successful value network requires two things: a customer insights advantage built on data and a right to broker established through brand trust and engagement.

What value networks look like

Consider the partnerships Spotify formed with ticketing platforms. The music streaming platform has a customer insights advantage as a result of its rich user listening data. That data is valuable to ticketing providers, who need ways to target potential customers. Through partnerships, Spotify can use its insights to connect customers and ticket providers in ways that benefit all:

  • Ticketing providers extend their reach and connect with the most relevant potential buyers.
  • Customers get access to their favorite artists’ performances and a simplified purchasing experience.
  • Spotify captures new revenue as a booking agent and deepens its relationship with listeners.

In this way, Spotify functions as a broker between customers and its partners. It established the right to broker through both unique insights and its position as a trusted consumer brand. As businesses face broader economic uncertainty and fast-evolving customer demands, such value networks offer low-cost avenues for innovation and expansion.

Song Life Centric Sales Exhibit
Song Life Centric Sales Exhibit

Achieving a customer insights advantage

To benefit from value networks, companies need to tap into data to understand who their customers are, how they interact with the company and how they use its products and services. Analytics alone are no longer enough—businesses must also monitor the external forces (including technology, culture, politics and more) that profoundly affect people. This life-centric approach to data capture and analysis is key to developing a customer insights advantage.

Companies with a true customer insights advantage enjoyed a +4.9-percentage point higher average earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) growth rate over a two-year period.

A strong digital core is fundamental to developing this advantage—and to all other strategic needs of an enterprise as it transforms itself through Total Enterprise Reinvention. Instead of static, stand-alone parts, companies need to invest in a modern, cloud-based IT foundation that is focused on interoperability and allows access to data at scale. Through our research, we discovered that companies with customer insights as a competitive advantage:

Step One

Develop direct data sources from customer behaviors and interactions.

Step Two

Establish effective data orchestration across departments, channels, geographies and partners.

Step Three

Enable a culture of data analytics to help manage customer relationships more effectively.

Establishing the right to broker

The second component to driving growth through value networks is establishing the right to broker. It positions the company at the center of a relationship between strategic partners and customers with the promise of delivering value across the network.

The right to broker has two requirements: first, customers must trust the company’s ability to recommend relevant products and services; second, the recommendations must be relevant to their needs.

Expert data collection and analysis are essential for establishing the right to broker, as predictive signals can help identify trapped value within a network. When the data reveals customer desires outside a company’s own capabilities, partnerships offer a way to meet them with minimal cost. These partnerships, however, only work when they deliver products and services that customers trust as much as the original brand. To maintain the right to broker, companies must partner with organizations that share their values and meet their quality standards.

1 in 5

companies say they are selling a partner's products “very well” using predictive analytics


of executives say selling a partner’s products using predictive analytics is a priority over the next three years

Building effective value networks

These two components—a customer insights advantage and the strategic partnership advantage of an established right to broker—combine to create value networks. Businesses building these networks place themselves at the center of an ecosystem dedicated to serving their customers’ needs more holistically. They create a foundation of insights and analytics, identify customer needs and continuously evolve their approach to partnership expansion based on fast-changing demands.

Our research found that companies with both an industry leading competitive advantage in customer insights and superior partnerships yielded +10.8 percentage points higher profitability growth over a two-year period.

Four steps to enabling value networks

1. See customers and the business in a new light

by identifying sources of data that can inform decision-making and serve as a foundation of knowledge. These may include structured behavioral data or unstructured conversational data from across marketing, sales and service functions.

2. Solve for shifting scenarios

by transforming that data into insights and identifying new ways to connect to customers’ lives. This is best done by using both technology and human-driven analysis to analyze data and identify opportunities for brokering within a value network.

3. Simplify for relevance

by fusing data and partnerships into useful value networks. Targeted customer reach offers benefits to all involved. Those benefits are drawn from negotiating business model terms (such as transaction revenue share and impression fees), as well as the potential exchange of data. Brokers are best positioned to direct the quality of the customer experience and transactions across partners, to help ensure continuity.

4. Scale for growth

by activating cross-selling opportunities. Typically, companies with a higher frequency of customer interactions gain an advantage in brokering. The goal should be to maximize cross-sell opportunities through interactions that are as seamless as possible—even across the lines of multiple organizations.

Networked for new opportunities

Consumers’ lives are more complex and unpredictable than ever. Generative AI and other new technologies are rapidly altering how companies can interact with and understand them. And relevance is both harder to maintain and increasingly important. Value networks offer a way forward. By using data-driven strategies to build a customer insights advantage and establishing a right to broker through strategic partnerships, businesses can realign with their customers’ needs. Value networks that create cost-friendly growth opportunities help businesses deliver on the promise of customer relevance—and build a path to future growth.


Dawn Anderson

Global Sales & Service Lead – Accenture Song

Grace Hughes

Content Design Lead – Accenture Song