Communication Changes in the Digital Transformation
Usually, when we think of digital transformation, we think of the cool technologies—artificial intelligence, big data, machine learning—that help our businesses run faster and smoother. But those technologies do more than enhance our productivity. They also change how we communicate—with our fellow employees and with our customers.
It would be easy to chalk all the communications changes up to “mobility”—the seemingly unstoppable force allowing us to be accessible—and “on”—anytime and anywhere. But within the advancement of mobility itself, there are numerous different waves of communication changes—many of which do not even involve “human” communication at all. The following are just a few examples.
On the Internal Side
In the past, we saw internal communication as a subsect of either human resources or marketing—somewhat of an afterthought to the larger priority of keeping the customer informed. But nowadays, with culture playing such an important role in a company’s digital success, internal communication has risen to become a top priority for many companies. They’re communicating faster, clearer, and on more channels—and they’re willing to invest in keeping their employees connected and in-the-know. In fact, 100 percent of internal communications departments today are using digital communication—and they’re spending more than half of their budget on those efforts.
So where is that budget going? By and large, today’s most savvy companies have already moved past email to find smarter, faster ways to connect from home or office. This includes unified communications platforms that allow employees to chat, video conference, text, and share documents, all from their mobile devices. It also includes things like automated workflows that speed up the processing of internal documentation—while also cutting out the possibility of human error.
The real question, of course, is what is the greater benefit of this communication shift? I’ve already discussed the greater challenge of burnout with 24/7 employee access—and I’m guessing we’ve already experienced it ourselves. But what about the upside? Obviously, enhanced digital communication allows for faster, more seamless workflows, increasing efficiencies enterprise wide. Ideally, it can also help break down silos by increasing employee access to leaders and other departments. It can help empower employees to share feedback, think bigger, and feel part of the greater company mission. Unfortunately, just over 40 percent of HR and internal communication departments measure the effectiveness of their communication efforts. Nevertheless, while the jury may be out on how effective those communications are—the fact remains they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. With digital natives making up 75 percent of the workforce by 2025, communications are only likely to get faster and more digital in the coming years.
On the External Side
When it comes to customer-facing communication, most companies are realizing their customers are more than connected—they’re hyper-connected to today’s brands, issues, and celebrities. They don’t just want more meaningful communication—they expect it. And they expect it now, on their terms.
For today’s companies, that means mobile-first is the bare minimum they need to achieve when it comes to customer engagement. Indeed, studies show humans are absolutely obsessed with their phones. The average smart phone users touch their phones more than 2,600 times per day. It’s no wonder companies are putting so much focus on mobile connectivity as customers seek to buy, solve, chat, research, and work from their mobile devices. From social media interaction to 24/7 chatbots, and from live video-streaming to app-based services, companies are catering to the type of communication their customers want: fast, consistent, and engaging—usually with a personalized incentive or experience attached.
To keep up with hungry customers’ demand, businesses are realizing the importance of marketing automation, including smart beacons, artificial intelligence and live data-streaming that allows marketing departments to tweak campaigns instantly for greater personalization and impact.
Creating a Transformative Communication Strategy
Not surprisingly, not all companies are created equal—especially not during digital transformation. Smaller businesses and start-ups have a leg up on larger, legacy-era companies that are still buried in paperwork, complicated hierarchies, and inefficient workflows. Still, that doesn’t mean they need to give up on digitizing altogether. As with any decision in this era of change, the most important thing any company needs to do is solidify its purpose and vision. Once you determine what you need, you can then choose the right tool to get you there. While person-to-person communication might be dying out—the uses of creative human vision is still paramount to any great company’s success.