Trendsetting: Are You Ready for These Five Trends?

There’s a very interesting blog post in today’s WSJ Tech Europe on five trends to watch for in the coming five years.

  1. Disruption to Business plans
  2. Big Data
  3. Internet of Things
  4. Privacy
  5. Talent Management

You should take the time to read the post now and then come back here to add your thoughts. It’s a very relevant look at what is coming to your business. Are you ready as a communicator to deal with these trends? Here are my thoughts on what you should be doing if you’re not already.

  1. Disruption to Business plans: “Enterprises need to consider exactly what it is they do, and where the value lies.” As communicators our role is to not only help discover this value, but also to build a brand and reputation around it. The problem is two-fold: 1. Business plans and businesses are changing more quickly, more often and you need to have a team and plan that also changes quickly. 2. Competitors are constantly on your heels looking for ways to upend your business model.
    Your Checklist: Meet face to face with business managers at least once monthly; devise a real-time monitoring system; review your messages monthly to ensure your are on track
  2. Big Data: “The ability for organizations to gather, analyze and act upon vast amounts of data is at the heart of new business models.” Data should be at the heart of your communications model as well. As communicators we now have access to a number of data points — social sentiment, website traffic, ratings, opinions, etc. And guess what? There’s going to be more of it. Lots more. So what are you doing about it? Do you have your reports just blindly generate the same data points month after month? Or are you under the hood trying to make sense of it and altering your messages and plans?
    Your Checklist: Understand what data you have access to (NOTE: Go sit down with your website team); make sure everyone on your team understands the “business” value of measurement; take time to review the vendors in the space who offer analytics; subscribe to the following blogs: Metrics Man, Intelligent Measurement, KD Paine’s Measurement Blog
  3. Internet of Things: “There are currently about two billion networked devices connected to the Internet. Within a few years that is expected to be anything up to 50 billion…” So what are you doing about your mobile strategy? Do you have one? Is mobile integrated into what you’re doing already?
    Your Checklist: Find out what devices your customers are using (NOTE: Make this part of your discussion with the website team); see how much web traffic is coming from mobile; learn to write headlines better (NOTE: Think Twitter headlines)
  4. Privacy: Revisit point number two above. Our companies collect an enormous amount of data and businesses are doing more and more with publicly available data from services like Facebook and Twitter. You need to understand the risks associated with this for your organization and make sure you are thinking through how you will communicate your company’s policies around privacy.
    Your Checklist: When talking about product and service offerings make sure everyone understands the data/privacy risks; meet with your risk management team to discuss the implications
  5. Talent Management: Communication professionals of the future are going to have a broad background of international and business skills. One of the reasons I relocated to London was to build on my existing international business experience. But in the future, the job you may be competing for may not be against another public relations professional, but it could be a lawyer, or an economics professional, or perhaps even a mobile app developer. While the industry has fought for the past thirty years for relevance as a business function, the downside of winning that battle is that everyone else wants to get in on the action. This also means that as you recruit for people you need to think about getting the best and brightest with the skills to meet the four trends above. That may not be a traditional public relations professional. Regardless if you are hiring or wishing to be hired, don’t be boxed in by a job description.
    Your Checklist: If you are hiring don’t be boxed in by the recruiting’s template “job description” — hire smart people who will help you lead your business; If you are newly minted to the profession expand your horizons and your business acumen (I wrote earlier about that here); no matter what your experience level keep an open mind and focus on learning.

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One thought on “Trendsetting: Are You Ready for These Five Trends?

  1. Right on, Allan – particularly the last point about talent management.  Communicators looking to succeed need to consistently build the best teams possible, and in my opinion, that’s done most effectively these days by looking for people without pure comms backgrounds.  I’ve always found I’ve learned most from people different than myself, and smarter than myself.  As a result, I then can contribute more to my own growth, to those around me, and to my clients.  My advice to comms pros is not to focus too much on school backgrounds, majors, awards, etc.  I think the old adage still applies: Hire smart people and “train” ‘em. And when we DO hire smart people, their “training” is more like absorption rather than training … smart folks pick up things very quickly. One should never  be afraid to hire outside of our their own comfort zone. Nice absorption of the WSJ article … ;-)

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