The most important business trends of 2013 have a common element – the customer. Their involvement in product design, control over the marketing message, and influence on each other is growing. Here’s what some of the most forward-thinking thought leaders have to say about these trends. You can find dozens more quotes in our new report.

“[Viewers] aren’t just quietly absorbing impressions. They’re turning around and expressing themselves through social networks. Measuring and analyzing those expressions: What if that replaces, or combines with, the counting of impressions to change the whole flow of decision making – and, therefore, of [ad] dollars? That would literally reshape the industry.”
Deb Roy, co-founder and chairman, Bluefin Labs

Comments about TV on social networks (2012 saw 255M in the US alone) change not only what we watch, but how we think about it. Much like watching a movie in the theater – if no one laughs at the jokes, they seem less funny. Except now, the theatre includes every living room, and the collective influence of our conversation applies to commercials and brand placement as well. Successful TV advertising won’t be defined by the number of eyeballs reached, but by the conversations around it.

“Five years from now, you’re never going to get a present you don’t want. My husband will pull up an app that pulls together all of my favorite things from all of my favorite stores into one, awesome, just-for-me capsule. But it’s even better than that: The app knows things I’ll like that I don’t even know I’ll like.”
Lisa Pearson, CMO, Bazaarvoice

The future will see seamless data sharing. Your connected devices will know the products you buy, how you reviewed them, the shows you watch, the places you go, the music you listen to, the foods you eat – everything about you. And when they do, seemingly disparate data streams will converge to perfect personalization. Which laptops rate highly among people who love Game of Thrones? Which hotels are most liked by people who listen to Skrillex? When it comes to what our “data selves” will be able to predict about our buying habits, we don’t yet know what we don’t know.

“At the end of the day, we have one rule: Make the customer happy. Take care of the problem. And I think when you’re that open and honest and transparent about trying to resolve an issue, you immediately turn a customer into an advocate.”
Patrick Duncan, SVP eCommerce, Helzberg diamonds

Responding to negative reviews to resolve the issue or promise future improvements delights not only the reviewer, but other shoppers. Harris Interactive found that among reviewers who received a retailer response to negative feedback: 34% deleted the review, 33% turned around and posted a positive one, and 18% became loyal customers and bought more. And after reading a poor review, shopper intent to purchase more than doubles if they see a brand response.

“Imagine for a second if we could connect ourselves on this planet… Companies with customers, employees with each other, people and communities… A network that enables us to connect and to communicate and to share information differently. Could we go beyond simply exchanging information? Could we start to create some kind of collective intelligence?”
Don Tapscott, author and consultant

Through universal convergence of devices, data streams, and the online/offline worlds, that network is quickly becoming reality. People are no longer passive consumers – they’re able to influence products and services through their feedback and participation, and even to offer their own products and services online. Businesses that encourage and enable this behavior will achieve the “collective intelligence” with their consumers that Tapscott describes – “hiring” their customers as co-owners in the business for deeper loyalty and affinity.

These are just four quotes among dozens in our new paper, Thriving in the connected economy: Social Trends Report 2013. Download the report for predictions and advice from thought leaders at Interbrand, Samsung, Forrester, Johnson & Johnson, The Altimeter Group, and more.