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The Great Myth of Technology

It’s not the answer…it’s part of the answer

While everyone thinks they already know that technology is changing behavior, the reality is that assumptions and blind faith are still playing a role in how businesses are approaching these changes. Many experts believe that mobile and social networks are the new channels for engagement. They place their bets on the number of users each network boasts, as well as by the amount of attention press and bloggers pay to what’s hot.

However, experts cannot tell you the role certain networks play in the customer’s decision-making cycle, aka the customer journey. Nor can they pinpoint the economic impact of activity or conversations on the business before, during and after the transaction. That is why the answer to the question of what the return on investment (ROI) of these initiatives is, is elusive to them. Instead, they come up with new terminology to support their blind faith.

Many social media enthusiasts are convincing businesses, governments and nonprofits to use social media based on this blind faith supported by soft metrics that for all intents and purposes is old marketing guised as newfound engagement. Just because a business is embracing new technology doesn’t mean that it is creating meaningful, productive or measurable experiences.

In many cases, my research shows that expansion into new networks is actually causing social blindness (the new media equivalent to banner or advertising blindness). It also causes brand dilution because the experience is the furthest thing from defined, reinforced or integrated. This happens because organizations are siloed. No surprise here. And, by nature, these silos contribute to the problem of disconnected or competing experiences. Businesses are often experimenting with new technologies independent of the overall business efforts. Meaning, what one side of the company is saying and doing is different from the other. Therefore, the experience starts to work against the brand, or the brand promise.

It’s not enough to know consumers are changing how they communicate, connect, discover and, in turn, purchase. It is not enough to adopt the technologies and networks they’re using. It’s not enough to even fight for attention for these new networks. Your path begins with discovery and rethinking the new customer journey.

This is the end of business as usual. But to get anywhere, you have to prove it.

If you can collect and interpret the data and behaviors of your customers, they will lead to insights and the confidence to convince the skeptics and the fearful. The truth is that the market votes with its dollars and those dollars are already being siphoned away from the inputs you have in place today.

By entering the journey with the intention of discovery, you will learn where you’re losing dollars and the new places and supporting strategies where they can be earned and re-earned. Dollars are being increasingly earned and spent in new touch points. Discovery unlocks information. And information is empowering. Your work will demonstrate which side of the dollar you’re on now and how to be on the right side of revenue and relationships over the next several years.

Brian Solis is Principal of Altimeter Group, a leading research-based advisory firm in Silicon Valley. He blogs at BrianSolis.com. This was excerpted with permission of the publisher, Wiley, from "What's the Future of Business? Changing the Way Businesses Create Experience."