Brian Solis on 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.

Photo credit: Associated Press
Photo credit: Associated Press

Like folks in the picture to the right, standing before newly-elected Pope Francis in 2013, they are capturing the moment and posting it, tweeting it, emailing it, blogging about it -- 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 one or two 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 -- who 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 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.

This originally appeared on the SAS blog Customer Analytics.

John Balla, Customer Intelligence Marketer

John Balla is the team lead for customer intelligence field marketing at SAS. He has a background in marketing, which spans his own startups to Fortune 100 global corporations. He has lived and worked on three continents and says he has a fluent command of Portuguese, Spanish, Hungarian, and (sometimes) English. John loves the beach, snow skiing, cooking, and gardening. He tries to handle stress with humor and puts the 'X' in extrovert.

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  • 6/30/2013 9:05:00 AM

One more win for extroverts who don't mind sharing their thoughts. I always wonder about the accuracy of reviews and such because they reflect the ideas of people who like to share them, rather than everyone in the population