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What’s the future of business?

Over the past week I’ve spent a couple of days at Microsoft’s offices in London to speak at the Share This Live social media conference and also to hear from Brian Solis @briansolis at the #b2bhuddle.

I’ve processed so much information! I’m going to share some of the things I heard and thoughts that struck me over the course of those sessions. I’m also going to upload all of the presentations I can find, so if you weren’t able to make it, you can read some of the content for yourself.

Share This Live: social media conference 2013

Share This TooRegular readers will know that I contributed a chapter to the best-selling book Share This: The Social Media Handbook for PR Professionals (Wiley, 2012), on using social media for employee engagement.

You can read previous articles I’ve written about it here, see my talk at Facebook as part of social media week 2012 and my chapter overview video.

The sequel, Share This Too: More Social Media Resolutions for PR Professionals is due out over the next few months and includes a chapter from me on using social media for corporate communication. I’ll let you know more information about it soon, but here is a sneaky peek at the cover and you can find the book on Twitter @sharethistoo.

The history of social media
Share This Live was the Chartered Institute of Public Relations’ industry-leading one-day social media conference and was based around the themes of the upcoming book. It took place on Thursday 11 July and featured a whole host of speakers including keynotes from Digital Editor of The Economist Tom Standage @tomstandage and Visa Europe’s Nick Jones @njones.

Tom and Nick’s presentations were excellent and left my brain buzzing. Tom looked at the world of social media from the standpoint that the communication and conversation techniques are nothing new. In fact, many of the ways of working have been around since the Roman times. You can see his presentation below.

As an ex-Visa employee, I found Nick’s presentation pertinent to get an insight into how they are working. I liked his phrase of ‘business as unusual’ to describe situations that require extra thinking and a different approach. You can read more about his presentation in the Storify accounts below by Michelle Goodall and Julio Romo.

The theme of the whole day was that social and digital media are no longer a specialist area of public relations but at the forefront of how current practice is evolving. It featured pragmatic case-study sessions and in-depth panel discussions covering topics including Online crisis management, social commerce, mobile media, understanding social capital and more.


I am a member of the CIPR Social Media Panel and want to congratulate my fellow members and the whole CIPR team for curating the conference and working hard to make it a success.

Stephen Waddington, @wadds, Ketchum‘s European Digital and Social Media Director and chair of the SM panel, chaired the day to guide delegates through.

The format meant delegates could choose their sessions and you can see all the presentations I have found to date below.

Audience and online habits
The first session I went to was Audience and Online habits, chaired by Adam Parker of RealWire Ltd. It was an intriguing look at how people communicate and what organisations are doing to encourage behaviours.

Alongside Adam were Andrew Smith and Andrew Grill. I always enjoy hearing them speak, you can find out more about them below and also see their presentations. The topics were social capital and what it takes to become a social business. You can see articles I’ve written about social business here and here if this is new to you.

Social commerce
In the afternoon Stephen Waddington and I were on a panel (pictured above) alongside Adam Stewart, Marketing Director at Rakuten’s Play.com in a session on social commerce that was chaired by the wonderful Katy Howell @katyhowell, CEO and social business strategist at Immediate Future.

If you’ve never read their blog, I urge you to as Immediate Future’s research on social media law is well worth reading. Katy is a mine of information and I count myself lucky to know her.

Share This Too conferenceShe spoke about social commerce (the use of social network/s in the context of commercial transactions) and we then had a panel discussion and answered questions from the floor. You can see all of Katy’s slides via SlideShare here.

Google’s Zero Moment of Truth was mentioned. If you’ve never read about it before, do take a look. There is a free ebook download to read more about ‘Ways to win shoppers at the zero moment of truth, a blog and comprehensive toolbox.

Download the presentations:

Further reading:

What’s the future of business? An evening with Brian Solis

Brian Solis and Rachel Miller

Brian Solis and Rachel Miller

My second visit to Microsoft was just over 24 hours later to hear Brian Solis speaking about his new book ‘What’s the future of Business? Changing the way businesses create experiences that was published in March.

Brian Solis is globally recognised as one of the most prominent thought leaders in new media. A digital analyst, sociologist and futurist, he has studied and influenced the effects of emerging technology on business, marketing, and culture.

He is a principal at Altimeter Group, a research firm in Silicon Valley, focused on disruptive technology and author of What’s The Future of Business? His blog, BrianSolis.com, is among the world’s leading business strategy and marketing resources. You can find him on Twitter @briansolis.

I created a Vine when I got the book delivered a few months back and you can read some of my thoughts on it in an article I wrote for Neal Schaffer’s Maximise Social Business website.

Comms pros huddle in London
Friday’s event was part of the #b2bhuddle series organised by Neville Hobson and Kerry Bridge and was excellent.

I’ve quoted Brian (pictured with me) for years, first writing about the Conversation Prism on my blog back in 2009, frequently highlighting his research with Altimeter and only last week I published an article about the updated Conversation Prism. It was a pleasure to meet him in person and hear him speak.

There was a room full of familiar faces at b2bhuddle and the provided the opportunity to meet people ‘in real life’ who I’ve communicated with via social media for years. You definitely can’t beat face-to-face comms!

I’m a big fan of Neville Hobson @jangles and Shel Holtz’s @shelholtz For Immediate Release podcast,(aka FIR) which I’ve mentioned here before. It’s free and published every week. Listening to it forms part of my Monday routine and is the soundtrack to start my working week. FIR recorded Brian’s session, so if you weren’t able to be there in person you can listen to what he said here.

wtfWhat’s the future of business?
Brian talked about his latest book (pictured) and shared the thinking behind it. What’s the future of business looks at four ‘moments of truth,’ the role of technology in decision making and how businesses need to create experiences that mean something at each stage and spark engagement.

The theme of shared experiences is prevalent throughout the book and I think other IC pros will find it a valuable read. Part of the talk focused on Digital Darwinism and how technology and society is evolving, leading to businesses needing to “adapt or die.”

In a notion that I’m sure sits well with other IC pros, Brian talked about how the best companies are those that put the ‘end user’ at the heart of their strategy and concentrate on value, help and engagement. He also said that employee engagement is the key to success.

Brian has kindly written the foreword to Share This Too, and I’ll let you know more about that soon.

Here are some of the Tweets to give you a flavour of the discussion on Friday night:











Want to read more?

I’ve created a Storify of Brian’s talk – this is a full account of all the Tweets, pics and Vines.
Benjamin Ellis has written about the night on his blog
Flickr set by Benjamin Ellis
Gloria Lombardi’s blog
B2BHuddle blog

Thank you to Neville and to Kerry Bridge for organising the huddle.

Post author: Rachel Miller


  1. So sad I got delayed and couldn’t make this. What great coverage. Thank you

  2. So sad I got delayed and couldn’t make this. What great coverage. Thank you.

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