At the beginning of January, Simply Communicate – the online community for internal communication professionals – published the business communication predictions for 2014 of a number of experts and thought leaders in internal communications, employee engagement and social business.
It made interesting reading and, despite the spread of specialisms / technical focus (see list of contributors below), I could identify a number of common themes.
As a general observation, I believe that the majority of contributors would probably classify their informed musings as a wish list rather than predictions; what they hope will happen rather than what will happen. This may be a natural consequence of the continuing economic uncertainty throughout 2013 – the Guardian’s pithy slideshow detailing the business year of 2013 in pictures makes grim reading. At the beginning of 2013, most people might have expected a stronger economic recovery during the year, but the ongoing crises and revelations resulted in an unexpected two speed environment, with new technologies and capabilities being avidly explored and adopted outside work while many work environments continued to suffer a seemingly endless round of low investment and strained morale. To quote Euan Semple on his 2014 “prediction” on App culture:
“It used to be that your best computer and fastest network were at work but this hasn’t been true for years. Our phones and tablets are better designed, and better equipped, than our out of date, slow machines at work. But not only that, the focus of app development these days is on mobile platforms. The best productivity apps are on consumer platforms, the best communications apps are on mobile platforms, and increasingly our data is more easily accessed on mobile platforms.”
So, wish list or predictions, here is my analysis of the key themes that business communicators will need to focus on in 2014 based on number of mentions by the Simply Communicate panel of contributors:
- Social comes of age: it’s no longer a case of whether organisations will adopt social media, or what social media they will adopt but how they will implement it. This recognises the pivotal role that social channels can play on key strategic objectives such as agility and innovation.
- The shift from broad brush Enterprise Social Networks to more targeted investments in mobile technology and applications and the creation of a seamless communication environment.
- A massive shift in the role and contribution of internal communications: if IC is not to become entirely redundant given the other predicted changes, we need to be seen to be capable of delivering strategies that will deliver quantifiable business benefits.
- The twin pillars of transparency and disintermediation that characterise social media channels will also require a change in the role of leadership whose behaviour will be more visible and potentially more influential than ever before.
- Big data vs privacy: the availability of seemingly endless streams of data, an organisation’s ability to interpret and deploy it as the basis for good business decisions and an individual’s right to privacy will continue to be areas of concern in 2014.
The Simply Communicate feature makes interesting reading but in my next blog I will focus on item 3 of this list and consider anew the role of the internal communications professional in 2014.
- Marie Wallace, Analytics Strategist at IBM Social Business Division, blogger at All Things Analytics
- Mike Grafham, Yammer Customer Success Lead
- Kevin Ruck, Co-founder The PR Academy
- Mark Morrell, Intranet Pioneer
- Stephen Welch, President of IABC UK
- Ian Buckingham, internal communications champion, senior partner at various IComms consultancies and author of Brand Engagement (2007) and Brand Champions (2011)
- Marc Wright, Publisher of simply-communicate
- Tim Johns, Partner at Change Agency
- The IC Crowd, Rachel Miller, Jenni Wheller, Dana Leeson
- Euan Semple, Director, euansemple.com and author, “Organisations Don’t Tweet, People Do”
- Neville Hobson, Business Communicator, Blogger and Podcaster
- Gloria Lombardi, Community Manager, Webmaster, Reporter of simply-communicate