I had a chance to dive into Brian Solis’ new book, The End of Business As Usualthis weekend. What Brian does so well is take the competing trends that are changing the marketplace, as well their impact on consumer sentiment and behavior, and helps us think through the ways we must reframe our businesses and our relationships with our customers to succeed in this new social business marketplace.
His ability to understand the present so well as to be able to reliably predict the future is something that Solis has been able to do for some time in his blog. But as his book suggests, we are now at a point where the impact of social media has drawn a line in the sand between business as we practiced it in the past, and the new strategies and relationship dynamics that will define the business success stories of the future. Solis rightly calls this “Digital Darwinism“, and as we have seen in the film, television, video, music and publishing industries, those companies that ignore the way that technology is transforming business do so at their peril.
Perhaps the most powerful message of the book is the appropriate priority that he now gives to the consumer. He explains how Millennials are increasingly defining what consumers need and want from brands, how social networks have allowed consumers to effectively have their own personal operating systems, and the growing importance of platforms like Facebook within this new “ego-system.”
Solis explains in clear and actionable steps exactly how business can respond to this new business environment, capitalizing on the fact that information is now available in real-time investing commercial relationships with a degree of intimacy unimaginable only a few years ago. The middle chapters of the book are critical to this end as he explains about the intersection between media and the human network. The importance of earning social capital for social brands, and the rise of connected consumerism, cannot be overstressed and Solis carefully walks us through how to understand them both.
He then goes on to explain the importance of mobile commerce and the blistering rise of mobile applications that will increasingly define the business landscape, making it ever more challenging for brands to maintain customer loyalty. As such, Solis provides invaluable insights into the co-creation process of the new brand/consumer dynamic. Importantly, he looks at its implications for the sales cycle, and how brands can create shared experiences that will inspire customer communities to build a business in partnership with brands, referencing case studies like Starbucks, Zappos or Dell. These examples are very instructive in terms of the emotional dynamics that are now driving customer engagement and the purchasing of products, such as social responsibility, empathy and philanthropy. Finally, Solis takes an insightful look at the role of employees within this new business culture, and the type of change management that is needed for brands to not only engage social technology, but to stay nimble enough to keep changing with it.
As such, Solis does a wonderful job of explaining and synthesizing the many competing and potentially confusing trends that are now redefining the business marketplace, and provides an invaluable guide as to what we can expect from the future in terms of a brand’s relationship to its customers, employees, and its new leadership dynamics. If you’re interested in the social business marketplace, if you’re committed to reinventing your brand for success, if you’re fascinated by the ways that social media is impacting customer relations, organizational dynamics, leadership and the future of business, ‘The End of Business As Usual,’ is a must-read. It will redefine how you see your business, the marketplace, and your future, and provide a deep understanding of the incredible opportunities available to brands today.
Simon Mainwaring is the founder of We First, a leading brand consultancy that provides purpose-driven strategy, content, and training that empowers companies to lead business, shape culture, and better our world.