By Bob Osmond, President, RPG
We’ve placed a moratorium on phrases like the “new normal” and “unprecedented times” in our organization, in part because they’re cliché at this point and because they lack anything resembling precision. The only thing normal now is that everything is in flux and flux is in everything.
A global public health crisis, combined with the possibility that we will finally reckon with our colonial past and the systemic racism that has endured, have pretty much thrown away anything resembling a playbook for how we live, how we work, even play. (Oh, and does anyone even remember Climate Change?)
It follows that this affects the ways we communicate about technology. If you’re still thinking about “what” you do, and obsessing about the bits, bytes, speeds and feeds of “how” you do it, just like the outmoded systems finally being pushed to change, it’s time for reinvention.
Purpose at the Core
Successful brands embrace moral purpose. Popularized with the publication of Simon Sinek’s “Start with Why” in 2009 (and his chart-breaking TED talks and subsequent books), and ignited by the rise of a new breed of conscious millennial consumers, having a clear purpose beyond making money is expected.
As a result, “brand purpose” has become a reliable catch phrase in business and marketing. It’s as common as a Venn diagram in a VC pitch—and it lives smackdab in the middle of “society’s big challenges,” “insert product/service,” and “ways to make money.”
Purpose is also the central ingredient in the next wave of innovation, part of what’s been called the Fifth Industrial Revolution (also cutely referred to as 5IR). In 5IR, technology and innovation live in service of an inclusive view of humanity.
The 5Gs of 5IR
Conversations about the Fifth Industrial Revolution are heady. They happen at Davos, in TED talks, and in lofty thought pieces. 5IR dovetails with the UN’s sustainable development goals (SDGs), which clearly put the concerns of humanity front and center. 5IR is also touted by business leaders, including Marc Benioff. (It’s probably a smart bet to listen to the guy largely responsible for “killing” software and establishing the SaaS category.)
Among the many transformative technologies we talk about today, 5G will be a critical component of 5IR. It will enable instant connectivity to billions of devices and has the potential to make the Internet of Things truly global. High-speed, low-latency connectivity will foster development of a new generation of applications and services (see healthcare and Covid-19), and unprecedented (there’s that word!) opportunities.
Here are five other Gs to help you prepare for technology communications in the Fifth Industrial Revolution:
- Get Curious: Get uncomfortably curious. Address your blind spots and dive deep into the realities of your customers and audiences. What is the human experience outside of your own? How would people of different backgrounds and abilities respond to this idea?
- Get Women on Your Side: Women are a growing, economically and politically powerful demographic. Pratik Gauri wrote “If women and girls are empowered to lead campaigns for human flourishing, all the other SDGs will rise.”
- Get Disciplined: Defining a brand purpose requires real and consistent brand actions, in how you talk about your technology and solutions and what you do. You must be disciplined and prepared to point every action back to your purpose. Consistency in communications is key.
- Get Engaged: Consumer and B2B buyers alike have higher expectations of the companies they buy from. They want to know where they stand—and standing on the sidelines is not an option. This trend will only increase as a new generation of activist consumers gains influence.
- Go: That’s it. That’s the Tweet.
As we move beyond technology and innovation for its own sake and embrace a more purposeful blending of inclusivity, humanity and technology, remember that having any daylight between what you say and what you do is not an option. Establish your reason for being with humanity at the center and be prepared to communicate authentically. In short, communicators must embrace reinvention to thrive in the Fifth Industrial Revolution.
About the Author
Bob Osmond is President of Racepoint Global.