A coffee table book with pretty pictures? A design book? A tech guide? A business manual? A marketer’s guide?
Well, any and all of the above really, and certainly an unusual reading experience within the conventional parameters of business, marketing and technology literature. Anyone who regularly browses the design, architecture or even critical theory shelves at a bookstore–anyone who spends time at sites like Rhizome or eFlux–will find the X experience not too unfamiliar.
X: The Experience When Business Meets Design (John Wiley & Sons) is a project of Brian Solis, principal analyst at Altimeter Group, and an author who moves very comfortably between culture and anthropology on the one hand, digital disruption on the other. But in case you think we’re traveling too far from marketing technology, here are a few topics you’ll find mapped, handled and wrangled in X‘s lavishly illustrated pages (this is a very designed book): customer experiences, interactive marketing, an alternative model to the funnel, data and analytics, process optimization, personas, experience mapping and experience flow. Don’t be misled by all the illustrations–the pictures of Tolstoy, Einstein and Jobs. This is a meaty read.
What’s X by the way? In a phrase, “experience architecture.”
“Close your eyes for a moment and think about the last time you truly had a great experience with a company as a consumer, an experience that captured your heart, mind and spirit. What about is was special? Let’s call it ‘x’–that je ne sais quoi that makes something so special. This book is about x, creating such memorable moments for your customers through every encounter they have with your brand–all day, every day.”
Maybe the best way to get a feel for what Solis means is to cherrypick some choice insights.
- Engagement as a single transaction is simply competing and trying to win in the moment. Engagement as a series of connected experiences, which span across media and context, is what experience architecture is all about.
- Mediumism: placing inordinate weight on the technology of any medium rather than amplifying platform strengths to deliver desired, integrated experiences.
- The future of search is distributed. It happens in apps, in social networks, in video channels…, and in image networks…
- [Digital customers] are connected, always on, unabashedly multitasking, and living across multiple screens each and every day. Your connected customers can’t help it. The nature of these social and mobile networks is that they prompt them to share their world, their way.
If there really is a debate about whether innovative technology facilitates traditional marketing efforts or transforms the way we think about marketing in a fundamental way, Solis’s book is a vigorous contribution to that debate–on the side, of course, of transformation.
This is a book to read with close attention, taking notes; or it’s a book to dip into randomly, at leisure. It’s also a good gift for the marketer in your life. I think Solis would be happy with readers having any and all of those experiences.