Book Review: What’s the Future of Business by Brian Solis

Brian Solis by Mike ShaneMost businesses think social media is for marketing. Digital analyst Brian Solis disagrees.

In his new book What’s the Future of Business: Changing the Way Businesses Create Experiences, Solis explains how the dynamic customer journey inspires “intentional experiences” before, during and after the decision to purchase which go far beyond the call of marketing.

He agrees marketers should use social media to try and steer purchasing decisions and other transactions. But what if a customer is unhappy with how a sales inquiry gets handled pre-commerce or has difficulty with a product post-commerce? Getting the future of business right means closing the gap between the promises marketers make and the experiences brands deliver by getting sales, customer service and ultimately the whole company involved in social media engagement.

Solis says if there’s too much space between the promise and the experience — as measured by how tough it is for customers to resolve issues — then brands inspire negative shareable moments on social networks that damage their reputation and discourage future transactions.
The Four Moments of Truth #WTF
Evolving his “shareable moments” concept from earlier writings, Solis maps out the specific windows of opportunity that are changing the way brands create experiences along the customer journey.

  • Zero Moment of Truth – The point at which customers research product information online,  aided by search, and increasingly social media, introduced by Google in 2011.
  • First Moment of Truth – The 3-7 seconds when a consumer first encounters a product on the shelf and considers purchasing coined by Procter & Gamble in 2005.
  • Second Moment of Truth – The actual experience when customer uses the product after the purchase and is or isn’t delighted.
  • Ultimate Moment of Truth – The shared experience that ensues after the customer uses the product or service and decides whether or not it lives up to the brand’s promise, introduced by Solis in the book.

Delving deeper into how brands can create customer experiences, Solis likens the future of business to the process of user interface design.  User experience drives the customer experience so businesses must be increasingly aware of the experiences their brands create and the shareable moments they inspire.

The book itself, with its wide, square pages, visualizations by Mekanism and illustrations by Hugh MacLeod show Solis practices what he preaches. What’s the Future of Business: Changing the Way Businesses Create Experiences should inspire plenty of shareable moments.

In an age when a never ending barrage of status updates and tweets makes it tougher than ever to focus for an extended period of time, Solis delivers a tight, prolific and meaningful manifesto worthy of sustained attention.

But the book’s brevity is not without a cost. Packed with big ideas, it is also lite on examples and may not be the ideal primer for those who aren’t fairly well versed in use of social media for business.

Still, if you haven’t been living under a rock for the last 10 years, and if you have any interest at all in the future of business, this one really IS a must-read.