Beyond the requirement to join Google Plus to leave reviews and the facelift, nothing else has changed. The back office for business owners is still the same. You still need to optimize your Google Plus Local (trying to get used to that new phrase) listing and get high quality citations. And, as a business owner, you still need to get listed on page one.
Nothing, and I mean nothing, is more important than getting ranked on page one of Google Plus Local for a business. That and your online reputation of course. Being number one will do you no good if your reviews suck. But paying to be number one in Google Adwords does not touch it. I have clients who use Adwords and they tell me 100% of the time that their paid ad does no where NEAR the job of driving traffic than Google Places.
It goes without saying, if you are a business owner that needs new customers on a regular basis then it is imperative to optimize your listing and beat out your competition. Because until you do, your competition is stealing your customers out from under you. But is Google Places dead? No, it’s evolved. For better or worse time will tell.