I’m typically the first to tell my peers and colleagues that technology is only a means to an end, and I avoid the temptation to let a cool device come before a strategic plan. That said, technology does have a dramatic impact on how we can communicate with our stakeholders and among our own teams. So I always pay attention to the product launches at huge shows like CES – which is coming this month. According to this article in Fortune, the program this year will feature a number of technology trends:
New products and applications designed to facilitate the transfer and playing of digital content (in this case MP3 content) like iPods and iPhones
Devices that allow users to connect to the Internet without the use of a computer, building on the expanding ubiquity of wi-fi zones to access information as diverse as sports, news, maps or weather
Tools that allow users to play streaming radio broadcasts
Devices that make wireless even more…well, wireless…building on technology like Bluetooth that allows virtual connections across a wide range of tools
All of these have obvious implications for corporate communications, particularly from an internal perspective. Companies struggling to reach their front-line and remote workers – including those without computer access – should play close attention to this emerging technology. These devices also open the door to more “pull” communications and personalization – which help reduce volume and increase relevance. On the surface, all of these trends seem to have potential applications for all the PR disciplines. Technology provides the delivery channels and tools, of course, but it also opens the door to important changes in the format and scope of content (e.g. more digital and audio). Any communicator worth his/her salt should be aware of these basic trends and look for ways to leverage them in their own environment. Otherwise, they risk becoming increasingly irrelevant and marginalized – a criticism the PR industry is already trying to fight.