Brian Solis’ vision of the future: big opportunities


There are big opportunities in store for business in Brian Solis’ vision of the future, just as there are equally big opportunities for customers. They emanate from the importance of shared experiences, taking place with connected customers and which are fueled by great technologies. As is often the case, these opportunities may present themselves initially as challenges, so the key is to have the right perspective or perhaps to have very smart people help us recognize them.

Some of the future opportunities will quite likely be related to what today look like problems. The upheaval currently happening as I write this post  in places like Turkey, Bulgaria and Brazil is being fueled by the folks that Brian calls “Generation C” – connected, technology enabled, and in these cases, upset by their shared experiences with inattentive government and other problems. With positive outcomes we can hope for, the opportunity is for these governments to become more responsive, transparent and accountable in ways that improve society.

Brian contends that understanding Generation C is both an opportunity and an imperative. This is a different time - the new consumer is born digital and wired differently than you and me. And why does this matter? Because we are each where we’re at because of the collection of our experiences – both personally and professionally. It’s those life experiences that we bring to our marketing, and which our customers bring to their interactions with our brand.

The opportunity to learn
While commercial enterprises rarely face angry mobs like some governments do, the risks are high for organizations that routinely neglect or anger their customers – or worse yet, turn a deaf ear to customers that are trying to be heard. The opportunities that Brian highlighted are more subtle, but equally momentous. It has to do with the idea that all these technologies we’ve been gifted should be regarded as an opportunity to better learn about the people that we’re trying to reach. It’s the idea that big data is only a challenge if you see it that way. Big data is actually an opportunity to use marketing analytics to find the value in combinations of transactional and other structured data with the unstructured data streaming out of social media, chat rooms, review sites and even contact center transcripts. The opportunities are there, I promise. And companies are already finding the opportunities and acting on them.

The opportuntity to be better
But the future that Brian sees goes beyond even that. He believes the real opportunity is for us to exact the type of change within the organization that makes integrated marketing just a function of a better organization – a better mission. So all of this talk about what we can do with the future about social, mobile, real-time and big data – none of it matters if you don’t care about creating meaningful and share-able experiences. It’s the opportunity to take a more human, empathetic approach to our marketing and usher in a new era of marketing that’s much more individually relevant and therefore more meaningful in aggregate.

The opportunity to be more human
Brian believes that no one likes to get marketed to or sold. What they do like – what they love - is an amazing story. They do like to be immersed. They want to be carried away – to experience something new in a different time, in a different way, in a different place.

When applied to marketing, it’s the human side of business. And if we’re not careful, words like “analytics” and “research” can detract from the power of the experience if they are not given the proper context. They’re important and we need them, but we can’t lose sight of what Brian calls the “human algorithm,” the intersection between data science and digital anthropology.

The Opportunity to deliver value
Studies have shown that people are willing to give you information – to give you access to everything that we probably held private growing up – if they know there is value in the exchange. This is an opportunity to deliver value while getting smarter. As a result, we should design experiences that deliver tangible value in return for time, attention, advocacy and data. It’s also an opportunity to rethink how we’re designed within the organization today – who we work with and who we don’t work with and to realize that integrated marketing means integrated experiences.

The opportunity to share the experience
Brian holds that if we’re not designing shared experiences, we’re going to be reacting to them. These shared experiences are guiding people through their decision making processes with or without our knowledge. This is not new because word of mouth has always been around. What’s different is that these experiences are put on communities and review sites, blogs, YouTube videos that endure and keep building – getting more informative and more influential. At some point, those shared experiences will be organically louder and easier to find in ways that exceed any of your “owned” properties that you try to search-optimize. So the opportunity is to actively engage and interact in ways that ensured the shared experience is also shared with your brand - in positive ways.

The opportunity to rethink marketing
From Brian’s standpoint, shared experiences are a currency in the connected economy and we now have to think from the “born digital” standpoint. As a result, rethinking marketing is both an opportunity and an imperative.

Try thinking “digital first,” like our customers who are increasingly born digital. So what would you do differently instead of taking that analog approach? That means that how you do things today are open to disruption – some policies, processes and philosophies can literally be shredded because that’s how momentous this shift is. That’s how personal and human it is now.

The opportunity to innovate from the heart

An illustration from "What's the Future of Business" by Brian Solis

We should stop trying so hard to engage in integrated marketing. Instead, we should ask why would we want anyone to engage with us in any channel. Why would anybody want to be a fan? Brian sees a blank slate for marketing – no best practice or infographic can point the way through the wilderness because we have the opportunity to reinvent business and focus on how people create and feel.

All the technology was have at our disposal today actually allows us to be more human – to care again about people belonging to something, so they have meaning, purpose or an foundation for self-expression. Innovation begins not just with your mind, but with you heart. It’s emotional, and experiences are always emotional. And whether those emotions are horrible or fantastic – that’s yours to define and that’s why this is an exciting time to be in business. And that’s what the big opportunity is all about in Brian’s vision of the future.

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, or watch a full recording of his session on YouTube.

As always, thank you for following! If this was your first stop in this five-part series, click here to see all the posts in this Brian Solis' Vision of the Future listed out.  Please leave a comment and let me know what you think.


About Author

John Balla

Principal Marketing Strategist

Hi, I'm John Balla - a Digital Marketing Principal here at SAS focused on Content Strategy. I co-founded the SAS Customer Intelligence blog and served as Editor for five years. I like to find and share content and experiences that open doors, answer questions and maybe even challenge assumptions so better questions can be asked. Outside of work I stay busy with my wife and I keeping up with my 2 awesome college-age kids, volunteering for the Boy Scouts, 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 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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