At this year’s simplyIC, in response to feedback we have had from previous events, there will be three programme streams. These streams are content, change and technology.
Each stream is being curated by a prominent figure in our sector. We’ve asked each of them to share their thoughts as to why their stream matters and what you can expect to get out of it.
This week, we hear from Jonathan Phillips, Head of Consulting at simply communicate.
Why the focus on technology
In recent years, when considering a future re-organisation of a communication team, there has been a trend to homogenise roles. Out with the specialisms of internal and external comms, out too goes digital and in its place, the ‘Communication Manager’; the swiss-army knife of communicators.
We’re aware of several large multi-nationals who have made this move already and of course, smaller in-house teams have always had to manage this way. The google trend for “digital communication” peaked in 2004 and has been in slow decline ever since.
In many ways, this move makes huge sense. Digital channels are part of the mix of tools available and a communicator that limits themselves to using only a subset of the possibilities is likely limiting their effectiveness. In the past, with a digital communications role in place, there were hand-offs from writers to channel owners for publishing, but with these new broader roles, there is ownership over the entire process. This feels entirely sensible. Our roles as communicators is to communicate; if we simply write, without dissemination, we’ve singularly failed to do our job.
The relationship between technology and communicators
But not every communications team has made this move because it’s not the panacea to communication woes. If we are to ask our teams to be digital, they’ll need upskilling and that will mean getting to grips with the machinations of the intranet, of digital signage, of your email campaign tool and your employee advocacy app.
And then too are the skills which are infrequently needed and therefore too costly to train for an entire team such as video pre- and post-production, search engine optimisation, community curation or social amplification. If these specialist skills are needed, it’s likely they’ll be outsourced in such a model.
What to expect from the technology stream at simplyIC
The simply communicate team believe that there is a critical difference between ‘doing digital’ – the skills you need to use the tools, versus what Tom Loosemore describes as ‘being digital’ – applying the culture, practices, processes and technologies of the internet-era to respond to people’s expectations.
This is the difference between knowing how to tweet and digital horizon-scanning. What we lose when a specialist digital communications role is someone to ensure that the communications function continues to learn, deploy and think digital at a foundational level and how to share such knowledge with the wider team. Operationally digital is great; culturally digital sets a team apart.
It’s this difference that led us to develop a technology stream at simplyIC. We’re not a technology conference but as IC professionals, we’re all users of digital tools so we wanted to bring accessible, valuable case studies and digital thinking to our community. It’s not about doing digital: we’ve been doing the horizon-scanning and we hope our sessions will develop your digital knowledge. Learn from the best – we look forward to seeing you there.