The Future Has Always Been Ours

On the 26 June, 2015, the following article by Gary Sharpe, titled The Future of Business Online is Not Social. It is Ours was published in LinkedIn.

I responded with the following comment:

We did not take a wrong turn. We fell for all the media and marketing hype that surrounded social as Facebook et el. set about boosting their revenues. As for this, “But the key, the new idea, is in taking the valuable elements of social media back with us – namely customer engagement and the ability to create and grow our own communities made up from our customer bases.” This is not a new idea, web sites have always been able to engage and grow communities, IF, and this is the crucial point, if the business has the wit and wisdom to make it happen.

Gary responded as follows:

Karl Castan thanks for your comment. To me “we fell for” and “take a wrong” turn are synonymous in this context – or you have been explicit about things only implied in my post. That’s crucial point is the crucial point – not many small biz have the capacity to develop the know-how. Any model which makes them hostage-to-fortune of another solution they don’t own is into the fire. Ownership needs to be more than owning a website. What’s new is tech which will set us free.

My response exceeds the length allowable in LinkedIn, so I have turned it into a post and appears below.

In my mind there is nothing synonymous between “we fell for” and we took a “wrong term”.

Talking a wrong turn implies that as a group there had been debate and consideration of the merits or otherwise of following a particular course of action, which in hindsight, we now see were unwarranted.

Falling for something is where we suspend our critical faculties, ignore any inconvenient facts and blindly follow because, well, everybody is doing the same thing, and hell no, we do not want to leave a few pennies on the table, now do we?

The real point is not that business lack the “capacity to develop the know how”. That is a false argument. They do not need these skills. What is missing is critical thinking, the ability to make objective decisions, independent of “experts or digital gurus” as to how to select and implement the best solution for their business requirements.

For myself, I would argue that we are not selling technology. We are selling solutions. Solutions which are mediated through technology.

We are selling solutions which must ensure that we are able to find the intersection of the three elements which make up the digital environment and offer the best chance for our clients to realise their business objectives. The three elements are:

  • Publishers (businesses)
  • Search engines
  • Searchers (your clients)

Future

And here is the big surprise: it is people who make the decisions. Not software or technology. Software and technology mediate the objectives of each group. Businesses do not need to know how to build a web site, nor do they need to know how to develop a social media campaign.

Businesses need to be clear on what they want, how the digital world operates, how to select the right service providers to deliver on that goal and how to monitor and improve on an ongoing basis.

And this is where I differ from you. You first work out the needs of the business and then you select the technology through which this solution will be mediated. This may mean that there are cases where social media plays a significant role in the solution. Or it may mean that the web is significant or it may require some mix of all. What it does not mean is a predisposition to a solution before you have identified the businesses requirements.

The future is not ours or social or anything. It is what it has always been, what is best for a given business mediated through the technology of the day to deliver the results which any business wants – conversion of clients to customers.

To presuppose a solution before you know the problem is no solution at all, it is special pleading.

I would like to acknowledge a debt to Michael Martinez and in particular this article,The Laws of SEO – How The Searchable Web EcoSystem Works.

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