The late, great Hall of Fame pitcher Satchel Paige is known for the quote, “Don’t look back; something might be gaining on you.” Noted futurist Brian Solis shares that belief, especially as it pertains to businesses and their need to look forward, not back.
That is especially the case in the post-pandemic world, according to Solis, who maintains that businesses should not be yearning for a return to the old normal but rather must adapt to the changed behaviors of consumers in what he calls the “novel economy”—as in the novel coronavirus.
“There’s no need to try to look to the past to see what we did when (instead) you have an opportunity to explore what you could do differently or what you should have been doing differently,” says Solis, who holds the title of global innovation evangelist at cloud computing giant Salesforce.com.
Solis shared his thoughts on the impact of disruptive technology and surviving and thriving in changing times in the July episode of the 21st Century Business Forum, a monthly webcast that features one-on-one interviews with some of the nation’s most prominent business minds and thought leaders. The Business Forum is presented by Business Report and sponsored by Home Bank and the East Baton Rouge Parish Library.
Solis told the podcast’s host, author Jon Gordon, that businesses need to pay attention to how people are changing, especially in reaction to a pandemic that caused them to become “digital-first as a matter of necessity” in how they work, learn and shop. Prior to the pandemic, businesses might have said they were consumer-centric, Solis said, “but that may have been more of a mindset.”
“Now you literally have to design the business around the consumer because they are not going to go back to ‘normal’; they’re only going to continue to evolve,” he said.
Businesses need to recognize this change so that they can create better experiences and build better relationships with consumers, according to Solis. And doing so will require businesses to embrace a spirit of innovation.
The catch, Solis observed, is that most businesses “will find every reason not to do something,” unlike innovators, who shift from idea to action.
Nonetheless, Solis maintains that spirits of innovation and creativity “are within us—they just need to be flexed.” They also need to be practiced, he said, “and that is where culture comes in, and leadership.”
“This is a time for innovation, not just in business models but in mindsets, and how we work together and want to work together going forward,” Solis told Gordon.
It will be critical for businesses to satisfy the needs of a changed consumer because of the next disruption on the horizon, which “is going to be choice,” Solis said.
He cited a study by the McKinsey & Co. consulting firm that showed 75% of North American consumers tried a competitive brand during the pandemic and 83% are going to stick with that brand post-pandemic.
Solis said smart executives and competitors are going “to try to pull those customers away from you because they can.” He said the rapid solution “is to try to figure out why they left and why they’re staying away from you,” then adapt accordingly.