Studying the impact of innovation on business and society

South Florida Interactive Marketing Association: August Speaker Q&A With Brian Solis


Brian Solis, best-selling author, digital analyst, anthropologist and futurist, answers questions on disruptive technology, engaging “that” generation, companies that get it, and more. Solis will speak at South Florida IMA’s monthly networking event on August 11. Visit www.sfima.comfor details.


  1. Why do you study technology and its impact on society? What first sparked your interest?
    As a digital analyst and technologist, my job initially was to study disruptive, new and emerging technology trends and to help those technologies find markets. Over time, I started to study how technology impacts business, then society. That’s when I became a digital anthropologist.The relationship individuals and groups have with technology makes more sense when you study behaviors, cultures and norms. So, to better understand where technology and business are going and why, you must first understand behavior – how people are changing.I study these out of necessity – to clarify the conversation and move it away from “technology first” and toward human behavior. For example, no amount of technology is going to solve problems with our schools as these are largely human-based, but once you understand the problems, you can then use technology to solve them.


  1. Which disruptive technology do you believe has had the biggest impact on society today? Why?
    It’s a confluence of several things — social media, mobile, pervasive Internet, and real-time. I developed a wheel of disruption in one of my earlier books that shows how all of these work together to impact society. They have essentially democratized connections and information, which puts people for the first time on the same level as media companies and governments with the ability to influence and be influenced. It’s a big deal. It’s had a democratizing impact on how information is discovered and shared. People have voices and access who have never had it before.


  1. Is there a stand-out “traditional” company that has bounced back from a disruptor with amazing customer experience stories?
    IBM and the transformation they’re going through with Watson – artificial intelligence. They’re creating new customer experience solutions around it. Newer companies like Netflix, which started out as a DVD mail order business and has transitioned to video streaming and content creation. They have a studio now. Amazon. They’re not just an online retailer, but also an electronics company with Echo, Kindle, and the Dash buttons.What all of these companies share is the need to constantly innovate to respond to the needs of the future.


  1. Who do you admire and why?
    It depends on the day or my mood! Lately, I admire Walt Disney, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk – and all the individuals like them going back to Einstein and Picasso. Individuals who pushed against the status quo and challenged convention. They not only pushed against it, but made it better and innovated in the process. I’m inspired because they show that you can get to where you want to go even if people disbelieve, are satisfied with how things are, or are afraid to challenge it. There are people who will follow you in a new direction because they believe in your vision for what’s possible.


  1. What excites you most about the future of digital marketing?
    If done right, it will become much more human and relationship-based, which means that customers will actually enjoy engaging with marketers and companies throughout their customer life-cycle.


Solis will present on Thursday, August 11 at 6:30 p.m., at the Antique Car Museum in Fort Lauderdale. The evening begins with networking, followed by the presentation at 7:30 p.m. The event is free for South Florida IMA members. Non-members pay $39 in advance, $49 at the door. To register, visit

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