Many top-level business communicators delegate mastery of communication technologies to junior digital natives and IT managers. “I don’t have time” is their common mantra. They believe their strategy-level work is too important to bother with the fast-pace of technological change, which is viewed as a mere detail.
My participation at Orange Business Live 2010 is convincing me even more than ever that these professionals are programming themselves for obsolescence.
I’ll be the first one to admit that following the pace of change is daunting. I was not one of the cutting edge communicators blogging and podcasting in the early days. As a matter of fact, I was probably slightly critical at the beginning, not of the technologies themselves, but of the excessive zeal by the group I called “e-vangelists” who seemed to advocate the technologies regardless of strategic need. I still think you should start with the strategy and then choose the right tools. But I now believe that if you don’t follow the technology, you’re more and more likely to get the strategy wrong.
I am increasingly convinced that if you don’t get out of the communicator wading pond and dive in with the techies occasionally, you’ll miss the boat and could be replaced at the top table by savvy IT professionals who understand that their job is about connecting and enabling people, not just setting up gadgets. If they get strategic about their technology and you don’t get technological about your strategy, who do you think will be called on to help devise ways to connect a global business to markets, to increase efficiency and cut costs and to transform the business into an agile entity that is responding to “weak signals” in real time?
In fact, business are becoming more like living organisms with nerve endings everywhere. The central brain has to process all of this information and react. In organisms, all of this happens subconsciously, and at the speed of electricity. In organizations, the processes remain far too slow and deliberate. Smart business management in future will strive to make organizations work more like organisms.
Smart communicators will want to be drivers of this movement by being a critical part of the organization’s central nervous system, and that means knowing what technology is out there and what it can do. That, in turn, requires keeping a toe dipped in the torrent of change raging by. Yes, it requires reserving time to keep a finger on the pulse of change, but a little time invested now could translate into still being relevant (and employed) a few years down the road.
Disclosure: Orange Business Services covered the travel expenses and accommodation for me and the other bloggers at Orange Business Live 2010.