Brian Solis: Digital Anthropologist, Author, Experience Architect [VIDEO]

If you’ve ever dabbled in the marketing or social media world, you’re likely already familiar with Brian Solis. From the numerous books he’s authored to the endless stream of content and speaking sessions he’s given at the most notable industry conferences, Solis is the definition of a thought leader.

Now the Principal Analyst for Altimeter Group, Solis studies disruptive technology and its impact on business and society. Beyond the technology itself, Solis looks at new ways to humanize it, drafting articles and sharing research on how it will apply to them. This is just one of the many topics we discuss in our interview.

Defining Experience

In Solis’ new book X: The Experience When Business Meets Design, he discusses how products alone will not lead to a successful organization. According to Solis, success will result from the experiences we create, not just the relationship we have with a customer. Although there is no simple answer for what an experience truly is, Solis broke it down to:

“Experience is something people feel, something they sense, and something they do.”

Now consider how this will apply to your business or any brand that you currently interact with. How does going to the grocery store make you feel? Is it really as simple as picking up items off a shelf? Of course not. From the colors, smells, layouts, and music playing, there are different objects affecting your experience. The same goes for any business. According to Solis, by controlling these experiences and stepping into the shoes of your customers, you’ll truly begin to understand them and of course find success into the future.

“One of the things that most businesses don’t do or even authors or thought leaders, I don’t think they put themselves in the shoes of real people. At the same time, I don’t really know that they ever really get a chance to put themselves in the shoes of people trying to do the right thing in organizations,” said Solis.

Established business tend to do things the way it’s always been done, even with technology this doesn’t really change. Add in some data, and we may be inspired to change, but we continue to use legacy budgeting, metrics, and KPIs.

How long is too long to wait for an Uber? Four minutes. These are becoming the new standard for experience. According to Solis, we either disrupt or get disrupted.

Disruption vs. Innovation

“A lot of companies get caught up in what I call iteration. Looking at all these new technologies, but using them to just do the same things better. But if you look at what true innovation is, well innovation is doing new things that create new value. Then when you have something like uber that comes along, well that’s disruption, because it’s doing new things that make the old obsolete,” said Solis.

He goes on to discuss how we may very well have a reluctant connection to these pre-existing established organizations and may not even be aware of it. Looking back at Solis’ Uber example, in most cases (always exceptions) there would be no reason for a consumer to use a cab again after adopting Uber’s service. But, “disruption happens to us or because of us. You have a choice.”

In most cases businesses are counterintuitive when it comes to innovation. Their processes get in the way, red tape slows progress, and somewhere in there an aging workforce is blaming millennials for everything else.

“If disruption is a choice, what are you doing about it, because it’s happening already?”

New Book, X

To learn more about Brian, his new book, X, and his thoughts on the changing landscape of business, watch the full interview. We’ll have a review of his new book in the coming weeks, but encourage you to check out his other books as well.

The book is a meta explanation of the context held within its pages. He had to work with the publisher on finding new ways of displaying information, aligning the design around the reader’s experience. From the table of contents to how the information is categorized, we’re excited to see a new approach to an established medium.

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Written by:
Elliot is an award winning journalist deeply ingrained in the startup world and is often digging into emerging technology and data. When not writing, he's likely either running or training for a triathlon. You can contact him by email at elliot(@) or follow him on Twitter @thejournalizer.
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