Brand Engagement

Entrepreneur Aims to Create New Commerce Ecosphere Based on Engagement Principles


One of the great joys of this engagement journey is meeting all of the like-minded people who have reached the same conclusions, often following different paths. Such is the case with Richard Hollis, Founder of Holonis, a revolutionary approach to customer engagement that remarkably parallels the Enterprise Engagement framework, even though our paths have never crossed.

As if the concept of Enterprise Engagement were not ambitious enough – finding new ways to achieve business objectives by engaging critical people in a strategic way – Holonis goes even further, aiming to empower small businesses to level the playing field with big companies in how they engage with customers.

After five years of development, his company will be releasing perhaps the first-ever strategically integrated customer engagement platform aimed at enabling small and medium-size businesses to have world-class platforms addressing all of the key touchpoints that connect customer relationships with transactions.

Democratize Marketing

“My goal, as ambitious as it seems, is to provide more than a technology platform that can help businesses, but level the playing field so that any organization, any entrepreneur, can have a world-class marketing platform,” says Hollis. Having risen up through the sales ranks to become CEO of two companies that went public, Hollis could afford to devote his last five years to the passion of creating something he believes can transform business by giving even the smallest company powerful competitive business development and relationship strategies that can effectively manage every relationship across the web and through social media.

Holonis starts with a simple-to-set-up website the company is planning on practically giving away, making it easy for any size company to quickly create a website easily accessible through the Holonis search engine and with a general look and feel with other companies in the Holonis ecosphere. But that’s just the beginning. The technology strategically addresses almost all of the key touchpoints in the Enterprise Engagement Alliance’s framework. It includes not only transactional capabilities, but an integrated social media system, built-in search engine optimization and real-time analytics, enabling “even a high school student to run a complete business with sophisticated behavioral based analytics that can be applied real-time,” Hollis notes. I saw a demo, and its interface is indeed highly intuitive and polished. “This platform,” he explains, “is specifically designed to help organization build the transparency, trust and relationships that yield ongoing success.”

Hollis came to this approach to integrating customer engagement from an entirely different standpoint than the founders and faculty of the EEA. Because much of his experience is in biotechnology, he drew inspiration from the organization of the human genome and the concept of holonics, which is all about effectively linking various biological systems into a whole that functions better than its parts.

Connecting the Levers of Customer Engagement

Customer engagement, says Hollis, is very similar. “Look at the way companies have all of their marketing all broken up in a tangle of wires. They have their website in one place, their various social media sites, their content strategy, their search engine optimization and their word-of-mouth platforms in multiple places. How can you make sense of all of this, especially if you’re a small to mid-size company?” Holonis, he says, is designed to help companies build greater trust and closer relationships with prospects and customers in a way that was never before possible.

Built on the platform, Holonis is designed to integrate all of the engagement levers organizations must utilize, measure and continually enhance in order to maximize long-term sales growth. His ambition is to transform the economics of marketing so that any company can effectively compete without having budgets for traditional radio, print, or other expensive (but often highly wasteful) marketing programs.

Hollis, who launched Holonis at the South by Southwest (SXSW) event in Austin in March, admits that he has a distribution challenge. Since the potential customers for Holonis are owners of small to mid-size businesses who are often over-worked and lack technology and the necessary skills critical to effective content marketing and search engine optimization, he recognizes that he has to find the right people to help in the field. In other words, the question is: How to build a sales force that gets out to the hundreds of thousands of potential businesses? His plan, which he preferred not to elaborate on at this time, involves an educational program to empower people coming out of college. While the platform is designed to use gamification to make it easy to set up, Hollis recognizes the need for a potential army of value-added resellers who can bring the concept to their clients.

If developing a fully integrated customer engagement platform weren’t ambitious enough, Hollis has created a consumer-facing version of the platform that enables anyone to organize all of the e-commerce and information gathering and sharing activities on Holonis in one place – sort of a Pinterest for commerce.

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