Brian Solis of the Altimeter Group has a compelling vision of the future - one which is replete with promise made possible by great technologies. But these great technologies come with a need to keep them in the right perspective (more on that below). In addition to great technologies, his vision of the future includes connected customers, shared experiences, new measures of success and big opportunities. This post is the first in a series in which I plan to describe each of these parts of his grand vision and hopefully do each of them justice.

His vision comes not from a crystal ball and mysterious incantations, but from studying disruptive technologies and from his perspective as a self-described "aspiring digital anthropologist." In that role, he studies the impact of technologies on people, society and culture.

He describes these technologies and the disruptive trends associated with them in what he calls a "wheel of disruption." At the center of this wheel lie a trio of trends - real time, mobile and social - which together are the catalysts for creating what he calls the "connected customer."

The three trends are surrounded by big data, gamification, cloud, apps and "geoloco" - all of which become significant when imbued with the power of analytics.

With analytics, we can harness these technologies to tell us more than ever about our audience not just as "connected customers" - but as human beings. And with that insight we can learn what's important to them so we can become more relevant.

In our important quest to gain relevance with our customers, one area Brian calls our attention to that's full of pitfalls is our websites. When we want to make them mobile, we get technology that ports it down to a smaller screen. While that seems like a logical approach, the issue is that we’re porting websites to new devices that are by design not even intuitive to the nature of the design itself. It’s still a website, which for all intents and purposes are not designed with the audience in mind. In Brian's words, "they say things to you, they market at you, but they don’t speak to you, they don’t grab you or help you along the way – most of the time." Case-in-point he says - visit almost any restaurant's website and see see how difficult it is to simply look at the menu.

Considering the pivotal role a website plays in how any organization engages with its customers, Brian calls our attention to key learnings to be gained from the "Liminal Report." The report came out of work that Razorfish did for Virgin America in learning how to build and then sell their airline's services and it identifies 6 unique traits that their customers were looking for in engagement:

  1. To be valued,
  2. An efficient engagement,
  3. To trust you,
  4. Consistency across all channels and communications
  5. Relevance
  6. A sense of control over how they interact with you.

Those 6 traits can be used as guideposts in building websites, and also in planning better and more meaningful engagements with customers across all our marketing activities so they yield better experiences for them. "Better" means experiences they are willing to share with positive sentiments.

Brian was recently asked what he thought was the most important technology that we need to follow, or the biggest trend on the horizon.

His answer? Human beings. To him, it's all about the "human algorithm."

Specifically, he believes that all of this technology that we’ve been gifted are best seen as an opportunity to better learn about the people that we’re trying to reach and take the engagements we have to serve a more strategic purpose.

.Brian shared this vision of the future at the recent Integrated Marketing Week 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 the "connected customer." Please leave a comment and let me know what you think.

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