“Innovate or die.”

A stark message for businesses of all kinds, but there is plenty of truth in such statement. In our hyper-connected world today, your business will lose out quickly and easily if you don’t keep up with the times. If you thought hiring a social media manager would finally put an end to the internal company debate. Think again. The future of business is making your customers the solution.

Lots of things have changed in the last five years. In fact, more has changed in the past year compared to the prior four. Technology evolves exponentially. Mobile and social media is now the norm, and data driven sales and marketing automation is on the rise. For those who are used to the way business is done, we are now living in a brave new world every day. Evolution will outpace those who stand still and the only way forward is to think and act forward.

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How we communicate with our customers is changing dramatically. They are already empowered with choice, information, and even their own voice. Distribution, once the king, is being replaced by content, authenticity, and value. In the near future, all products and services will be pulled by customers and no longer pushed at them.

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Surviving the new world requires re-envisioning how your business conducts itself. It means involving your customers in your dialogue. It means involving them in your eco-system as if they are stakeholders in the solution. In the future, businesses that get closest to their customers will win. Some may even become one.

Shared ownership, or crowd ownership, is where future companies are headed. Many successful companies today are able to succeed by making their customers feel like they are part of the journey. The important components in the equation are mindshare and adoption. Products and services who pull our deep desires to feel like part of something bigger are the ones who will find rapid success during hyper-connected times. Give them the tools and means to feel empowered. Give them the choice, voice, and even the upside for their adoption. Our time is even more valuable moving forward. Embrace your customer while it is early and don’t stop innovating.