Why Business is Different Now
Book Review: The End of Business As Usual: Rewire the Way You Work to Succeed in the Consumer Revolution by Brian Solis
People toss around the terms “thought leader” and “social media expert” lightly these days, but Brian Solis is one of the few people who actually lives up to those names. In The End of Business as Usual, Solis shows how the widespread use of social media is fundamentally changing the business environment. There is a new level of transparency, and companies are no longer in control of their brand or their image. In addition, the pace of change is infinitely faster when communication is instantaneous and worldwide. (I’m a bit late to the party in publishing this review, but don’t worry – the ideas in End of Business aren’t the kind that change from month to month.)
Social Network or Personal OS?
Solis suggests that Facebook has gone beyond being a social network and has become a personal operating system. It is where people find content, and has become a gateway to other sites. Millions of other websites have integrated with Facebook, including the vast majority of the top 100 sites.
Brands are Co-created Now
One of the more important points Solis makes is the idea that brands are no longer simply built by clever marketers. Rather, they are co-created by the brand marketers and consumers. The latter will carry on their own dialog and the message may differ markedly from what the marketing department had in mind. My favorite illustration in the book is this word cloud that distills consumer commentary on a major airline:
All the cute ads a company can run won’t overcome a word-of-mouth image like that.
Who Should Read The End of Business
The End of Business as Usual is a must-read for C-level executives responsible for fundamental business strategies. This isn’t a book about how to get more Facebook likes or what time of day to tweet for maximum retweeting. Not all CMOs and CEOs will have an attention span sufficiently long to plow through Solis’s book, a densely packed 320 pages, so the task of explaining and interpreting the book will fall to the next level of marketing and strategy execs. Just about anyone interested in the big-picture impact of social media on business will benefit.
Regardless of who champions the key ideas in Solis’s book, the essential point that has to penetrate the corporate mindset is that the business environment has changed dramatically, and that marketing and branding strategies that worked even a decade ago will be either much less effective or even counter-productive today.
Solis doesn’t leave the reader hanging. While the first part of the book focuses on the changing consumer landscape, the second half of the book is more prescriptive in nature. Solis provides a broad outline of how businesses can organize to meet today’s challenges and to operate in a flexible, adaptive manner that readies them for the inevitable changes that lie ahead.