Leadership / Management

Business in 2020: All social, all the time

Social The buzzword in business these days is "social."

Everyone's talking about how to be more social. How do we engage customers? Form communities? Listen to clients? How do we take advantage of these new social tools to educate and learn, to solve problems, to create buzz, to rule the world?

Here's the really interesting part, though: Ten years from now, no one will be talking about the social movement.

There's an old saying: Once something becomes ubiquitous, it also becomes invisible. That's already happening with social strategies. In 2020, they will be so ingrained in what we do, no one will think twice about them.

The folks at Intuit and Emergent Research understand that.

In Part 2 of their groundbreaking report, "Intuit 2020: Twenty Trends That Will Shape The Next Decade," they focus specifically on the social nature of business.

"Technological connectivity will transform how people and businesses behave," the report reads. "No longer constrained by geography, we will form communities and relationships in a variety of new ways. The Web will bring both local and global within our reach, increasingly blurring the distinction between the two."

In Part 1 of this series, we took a closer look at the five demographic trends outlined in the report. Today, we'll focus on the report's social trends -- and by "social," we're talking about a lot more than just social media. Quoting directly from the report, those trends include the following:

6. Social networks fuel the participatory economy.
Grassroots movements will be the norm, replacing traditional institutions as drivers for change in government and the economy. Web and mobile platforms will encourage more people to use forums and build communities and other relationships to make informed social, economic and political decisions.

7. Localism creates a new way of life.
Work-life balance will no longer be a myth, but a reality as people invest in the places they live to make them better, forging new communities. This weave of community fabric will see people re-establishing stronger ties with family, friends and community spawning local economic development in new, dynamic ways.

8. Individuals shoulder the risk burden.
Driven by economic changes and needs, individuals will be increasingly accountable for making their own insurance and retirement deicisons, where institutions have previously been involved. Likewise, governments will begin reducing soical support systems, driving the need for individual risk management.

9. Customers control the relationship.
The balance of power will shift from the business to the marketplace as customers grow more informed about products and services. With this shift from "push" to "pull" marketing, companies won't find their customers; their customers will find them.

In short, we're well past the point when being social is an option. If you're not doing it yet, you run the very real risk of being irrelevant.

The social movement is such an interesting paradox. On the surface, it's all about expanding our networks. Dive deeper, though, and you discover that it's real power might lie in our ability to localize those networks, to base our networks not on size, but on usefulness.

Let us know what you think, then listen to what Emergent Research's Steve King has to say in this MACPA video interview.


Bill Sheridan