Brian Solis

Companies often plan to make gradual improvements to their business strategies to improve their efficiency, but they can’t fully plan for disruptive technologies that appear out of the blue. Disruptive technologies can result in companies losing their market share or becoming irrelevant, but by learning more about this interesting phenomenon, you might be able to avoid the potential consequences of disruption.

Brian Solis is a principal analyst at Altimeter Group, a profit company, and he spends his day studying disruptive technology and its impact on business, which makes him the perfect man to talk to. He’s also an aspiring digital anthropologist and author. His latest book is called “X: The Experience When Business Meets Design.

Brian has years of experience in everything from innovation, customer experience, and employee experience to digital disruption and digital transformation, culture, and everything in between. He agreed to share some of his golden knowledge with you, and, trust me – you will not be disappointed!

Here are the major takeaways from the Brian Solis interview:

  • Disruptive technology is not just a commodity anymore; it has become a necessity.
  • E-commerce can and will be much further along once it becomes a much more efficient and personal process.
  • Customer experience is going to become more important than the products, and you now have to consider the end experience and how you re-design it for a mobile-first and mobile-only world, filled with accidental narcissists.

Wonder what the legacy of e-commerce is?

Disruptive technology can have a major impact on e-commerce businesses everywhere. Learn why in this interesting little read, where Brian explains the legacy of e-commerce.

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Download Brian’s interesting story about the legacy of e-commerce.

What is disruptive technology?

Disruptive technology is something that comes along early on and has the potential to disrupt markets, behavior, and processes models. According to Brian, there are three concepts of disruptive technology, and they are:

  • Iteration: doing the same things better
  • Innovation: doing new things that create new value
  • Disruption: doing new things that make the old things obsolete

Disruptive technology – a commodity or a necessity?

Brian suggests that we take the “e” out of e-commerce and just look at commerce. Whether it’s digital, mobile or social, disruption can, for instance, be found in the transaction space, in the form of money (bitcoin) or on the transaction platforms that we use. Take for example PayPal and Apple Pay.

These two technologies are not only teaching people that the idea of a digital wallet is possible but also that it’s necessary.

As a result, it starts to push people away from traditional transactional restraints. Brian sees great disruption happening on all levels of transactions, whether it’s on the business level, in whoever is conducting the transaction or hosting the transaction, or on the payment level.

Listen to Brian give an example of one of the most disruptive elements, along with a quick look at the future:

From a consumer perspective, Brian recognizes that things such as artificial intelligence will come to play a much bigger role in helping people find what they’re looking for and make the whole buying process much easier and more efficient.

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On-demand economy and accidental narcissists

Brian says that today’s consumers are part of the accidental narcissist, which contributes to what he calls the ego-system. It’s a market of people who, based on the use of apps like Uber, Tinder, PostMates, etc., are starting to learn that the world revolves around them.

As a result, they start to see the rest of the world in the same way as they see their favorite apps and wonder why they’re not able to do things this way; why everything isn’t that easy; and why everything isn’t that personal.

These attitudes create friction in traditional customer experiences and traditional e-commerce experiences. Over time, this friction opens the door for innovation and disruption from companies that recognize friction and seek to solve it.

As a result, you have these accidental narcissists who want what they want right now, and the services such as Uber, Tinder, PostMates, etc., are all designed to give you what you want at the moment you want it.

Here’s Brian telling you about a new app that he believes is symbolic of how the on-demand economy is introducing new value proposition:

Can traditional e-commerce sites fight on-demand economy?

It’s all about perspective, says Brian. The challenge for ecommerce is that it continues to iterate, meaning they build upon a legacy foundation. That legacy foundation is driven by legacy perspectives of how they see the customers and the customers’ shopping preferences.

They don’t recognize this market of accidental narcissists, the on-demand economy, mobile-first or mobile-only behavior. These are very significant trends that require innovation — not iteration ‌— which starts with perspective.

People who run ecommerce programs are stuck in the old way of seeing things, and they’re stuck in an organization that doesn’t necessarily support innovation.

Cultures are typically risk-averse, which is why startups are coming out of nowhere and can gain fraction because large organizations can’t do anything about it quickly.

Hear what Brian thinks needs to happen for e-commerce to fight an on-demand economy:

Understand your customers’ expectations and preferences

The mindset of traditional e-commerce is rooted in the parameters that started Web 1.0. The Internet was an extension of the physical world; for instance, e-commerce became a digital extension of physical shopping, and payments became a digital version of physical payments.

One of the reasons why Brian became a digital anthropologist was that he wanted to understand how behaviors are changing in order to shift perspective and be innovative.

As you have access to new technology – whether you understand, know or realize this – your behavior changes as a consumer, and thus your expectations, preferences, and value systems start to change.

Retailers, brands, and technologists need to understand how that behavior is changing in order to meet or exceed these new expectations and preferences.

Google micro-moments, such as mobile-first behavior, give insights into how companies can innovate in every aspect of the customer journey – from discovery to consideration to purchase and even beyond – and use e-commerce as a way to improve relationships and customer experience over time.

The biggest trends within customer experience

One of the biggest trends right now is looking at how customer experience is evolving. Customer experience is, like e-commerce, based on the customer they think they know based on the parameters that they know.

Brian thinks that customer experience is going to become more important than products, and you now have to consider the end experience and how you re-design it for a mobile-first and mobile-only world filled with accidental narcissists.

Not just e-commerce but also the overall customer experience and the overall brand are going to evolve. Brands can’t just be this shiny thing that people want to be a part of. Brands have to create physical and emotional experiences within the customer experience as well.

Every one of those trends leads to a better understanding of why these things are happening.

Improve your customer experience with live videos

Live videos are aspects of experience, and as a result, they have to become part of what the brand value proposition is or what the brand experience should be like. For example, live videos could be programming, companies showing how to do things, inviting people to share how they use products differently, or Q&A sessions.

Additionally, live videos can be a way of improving customer engagement. For instance, if your attention is focused on Facebook all day long, the idea of going to a website and contacting customer service can be a painful friction-filled journey.

However, if you have the opportunity just to click a button on Facebook and bring up a live video between you and someone else to answer or solve your problem, it would be a much more fascinating experience. That is what Brian calls designer experience architecture.

Brands need to think about how to use these technologies in new and innovative ways, instead of just bolting them on to old frameworks and old customer engagement models.

Free Downloadable Bonus
Download Brian’s interesting story about the legacy of e-commerce.

Wrap up

Disruptive technologies are becoming necessities rather than commodities, which is turning people into accidental narcissists as Brian calls them.

Even though you can’t plan for disruption, a better understanding of the concept and how it works can help you evolve alongside your customers and create better customer experiences.

Live video, artificial intelligence, bots, and reimagined design all have tremendous opportunities for companies if they just open their eyes. So be on the lookout if you want to stay a top contender.

Let’s pass the mic to you! Do you have any experiences with disruptive technology, and what have you learned from it? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

Rikke Thomsen
Rikke is Head of Email Marketing here at Sleeknote. Her expertise lies within copywriting, content marketing, and email marketing. When she’s not busy wearing down the keys on her keyboard, she loves getting creative in the kitchen, binging on Netflix series, and skiing in the Alps.

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