Peter Schwartz, the celebrated futurist from Salesforce, spoke Monday at Dreamforce about the relevance of companies that embrace the power of the new “inverted economy.”

Peter pointed out that individuals, not corporations, leveraged by knowledge networks of other customers, employees and partners are the new “market makers.” This is where the pyramid of power inverts.

The scale that customer advocacy – both good and bad – can achieve in today’s day and age is simply astounding. The once impossible becomes probable when customers collaborate at the speed of now.

So what is the challenge today for the customer engagement industry?

As Peter pointed out, you have billions of customers who know more about you than you do of them in an economic environment that continues to push forward relentlessly in terms of freedom of choice. There is absolutely no hiding from this.

The difference between good customer service and great customer service lies fundamentally in knowledge and having answers before your customers have questions. But what if you don’t know what you know?

A company’s collective Know How (Expertise) and Know Who (Experts) are locked inside fragmented IT systems, unable to provide the answers companies already have.

The new customer service math says this: What you know about your customers = what your customers know about you. Is this the case at your organization?