Brian Solis' vision of the future: connected customers


Brian Solis of the Altimeter Group envisions a future brimming with potential, and a key part of his vision of the future are connected customers. These people are connected thanks to amazing technologies that enable the shared experience to take center stage, and for which new measures of success highlight many big opportunities. The connected customer is the focus of this post, the second in a five-part series that I've devised to capture his grand vision and share with you here.

Perhaps you've seen connected customers out and about - they're the ones who seem constantly abuzz - planning events, experiencing them or telling you all about them. How do you know all their details? Because they tell practically everybody about it - before, during and after the experience.

The crowd before newly-elected Pope Francis in 2013. Photo credit: Associated Press / Michael Sohn

Like folks in that picture to the right, they are capturing the moment and posting it, tweeting it, emailing it, blogging about - spreading it like bees with pollen in an apple orchard. That view of a veritable ocean of phone and tablet screens seems normal, right? Well, that normalcy is recent and it's part of what makes it remarkable. The last time a Pope was inaugurated was in 2005 and the equivalent scene of the crowd showed perhaps 1-2 people holding up a digital device to capture the moment and share it.

Brian refers to connected customers collectively as "Generation C." They're not necessarily "millennials," teens or pre-teens - which are also a part of Generation C. Their common bond is that they live a connected lifestyle - one that's digital and increasingly mobile. And the significance of that mobility is in how it is changing the individual's thought processes and behaviors. These changes have been studied and documented by Forrester Research's Josh Bernoff, highlights of which I've previously shared in my post titled, "Shifting marketing to meet mobile customers."

For Brian, a self-described digital anthropologist, it's that impact on the individual that we need to foster and incorporate in everything we do as marketers. It's not simply because it's cutting-edge, or "cool," but because it's a potential catalyst for marketing to evolve into something more meaningful than just clicks and conversions. The necessary focus for marketing should be on finding and nurturing genuine engagement so that the connected customer is also connected to us. From my view, doing that decreases the chance that the customer evolves separately and increasingly apart from us or our messages.

As Brian described it, something happens when you are connected - you become more informed and empowered, which then makes you more demanding. And then you start to expect personalization and quicker responses. Understanding that dynamic is an important part of appreciating the key role that marketing analytics can play in informing decision-making and execution that meets the needs of the connected customer. And considering the recency of the connected customer's rise, it also suggests that greater opportunities from engaging the connected customer lie yet before us.  And that's a vision of the future I can buy into.

Brian shared this vision of the future at the recent Integrated Marketing Week conference in New York City, where he appeared as a keynote speaker. More details about his vision of the future are available in his recently published book, What's The Future of Business. You can also view this short interview of Brian conducted by AllAnalytics on-site at the show.

As always, thank you for following! Stay tuned for the next post in this Brian Solis' vision of the future series about "shared experiences." Please leave a comment and let me know what you think.


About Author

John Balla

Principal Marketing Strategist

Hi, I'm John Balla - I co-founded the SAS Customer Intelligence blog and served as Editor for five years. I held a number of marketing roles at SAS as Content Strategist, Industry Field Marketing and as Go-to-Marketing Lead for our Customer Intelligence Solutions. I like to find and share content and experiences that open doors, answer questions, and sometimes challenge assumptions so better questions can be asked. Outside of work I am an avid downhill snow skier, hiker and beach enthusiast. I stay busy with my family, volunteering for civic causes, keeping my garden green, striving for green living, expressing myself with puns, and making my own café con leche every morning. I’ve lived and worked on 3 contents and can communicate fluently in Spanish, Portuguese, Hungarian and get by with passable English. Prior to SAS, my experience in marketing ranges from Fortune 100 companies to co-founding two start ups. I studied economics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and got an MBA from Georgetown. Follow me on Twitter. Connect with me on LinkedIn.

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