Ten new trends in communication

What are the 10 latest trends in communication? I have a guest post to share with you today looking at what’s ahead for communicators and some upcoming awards.

Digital communications are everywhere. (Obviously!) You can’t move for conferences, articles and books debating, discussing and dissecting the topic.

My view? We need to stop saying digital.

In the same way we’ve dropped saying ‘e’ in front of everything e.g. e-newletters, as we know they are electronic, and internet is now without a capital, it’s time to redefine the language we use when talking about the world of work.

Some companies have already dropped digital from job titles.

Your digital workplace could just be described as your workplace.

There’s an understanding digital will be involved, you don’t need to state it.

Digital shouldn’t be a separate part of what you do, its use should be embedded.

It’s all about championing the right tools, for the right task, at the right time.

In other words, what we’ve always done as professional communicators and in our organisations. We just have more choice available to us.

We need to ensure no one is left behind and has the right skills to use these tools and techniques.

But remember to allow room for traditional methods and media to have space and relevancy.

This takes time. You need to guide employees and your company through the thought processes to get you working in this way.

That’s my view. What’s yours? As ever you’re welcome to comment below or Tweet me @AllthingsIC.

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I regularly advise All Things IC’s clients on all things digital related and am aware the contentious nature of the language.

Setting my views aside for a moment (I can do that, this is my blog after all…) I promised you a look at 10 new trends in communication.

To do that I’m going to hand you over to Steve Bynghall @Bynghall. He’s a freelance consultant and writer specialising in intranets, collaboration and much more. Over to you Steve…

Ten new trends in communication

stevebynghallEvery year Rachel very kindly allows me to do a guest post on the All Things IC blog where I try to persuade you, the internal comms professional, to enter Step Two’s Intranet & Digital Workplace Awards.

We’re a well-established global awards now entering our 10th year. We celebrate original and brilliantly executed digital channels and communications which have had a genuine impact on employees and organisations.

We’re also completely free to enter with no associated costs.

This year we changed our name from Intranet Innovation Awards to incorporate the term “digital workplace”.

That name change reflects the high number of entries we were receiving each year relating to channels beyond the intranet from the wider digital ecosystem of workplace tools and channels.

The “digital workplace” is also a term increasingly being used by intranet teams, and also some consultancies.

Reflecting trends in digital communications

AwardsOne of the strengths of the Awards is that while we receive many submissions which are more “classic” intranet or communications-led, we also receive a number which reflect the introduction of new ideas and approaches and reflect how digital communications are changing.

For example, a few years ago we received a flurry of entries which were centred around the use of social tools.

Of course now the Enterprise Social Network is a common channel which helps engage and inform employees.

Subsequently the use of social tools tends no longer to be the sole focus of a submission to the Awards, but a common feature.

As the submissions come in each year it’s always exciting to see what trends are going to be revealed and what teams are doing out there that’s genuinely different.

Making predictions is always a risky business, but here are ten areas where we could potentially see some very interesting entries in 2016, reflecting new trends in digital communications.

  1. Mobile apps for frontline employees

Like social tools, mobile apps for employees are maturing, but there are many opportunities which are still to be explored, particularly for communicating with frontline staff. For example, have we found a way which integrates communications into a must-have mobile app which frontline staff need to carry out their role?

  1. Digital signage

Digital signage has been around for years, but its only recently that some IC functions are really exploiting its possibilities. This is an area where there are huge opportunities to be imaginative and impactful, by making signage more interactive, targeted for different groups and uses, and harmonising it with its physical surroundings.

  1. Events

Digital channels are changing both simple and complex physical events. Webcasting, apps, social tools and even digital walls are transforming everything from a town hall to an internal conference into a thoroughly digital experience. I’d love to know how IC professionals are using digital communications to transform traditional events.

  1. Chatbots

There has been a lot of recent coverage about the use of chatbots, and the various experiments being carried out by companies like Microsoft. A chatbot which can respond to natural language queries and can respond accordingly, for example by pointing people to important resources, has obvious potential. Are any internal communications pros actively experimenting with a chatbot?

  1. Wearables

The development of wearables in the consumer space has been a bit back and forth, with the growth of the Apple Watch and the failure of Google Glass. However, wearables have obvious value for employees out in the field or on the factory floor. It seems likely that targeted communications will extend to wearables at some point.

  1. Virtual reality

It feels like virtual reality has been waiting in the wings for ages to be a viable workplace technology. There’s some overlap here with the immersive worlds of Second Life which failed to take off some years ago. Exciting opportunities are now being provided by popular VR (Virtual Reality) headsets by Oculus Rift and even the potentially disruptive combination of mobile and Google Cardboard.  VR is here at last and I’m intrigued to see how it’s going to be used in the workplace.

  1. Artificial intelligence

You’ll find different names applied to solutions which process vast amounts of organisational data and produce output and results targeted and personalised for the individual, and then continue to learn and improve. I’ve yet to see comms pros use the ability to surface and deliver content with tools like Microsoft Delve, and it will be exciting to see if anybody is grasping the challenge.

  1. Messaging

Messaging apps are everywhere. How can these be used by central IC teams in the workplace in a way which is relevant and has value?

  1. The physical workplace

The increasing digitisation of the physical workplace is apparent. The use of sensors, the growth of the Internet of Things, easier video conferencing and advances in mobile technology and digital signage means the physical office and digital workplace environment need to be harmonised. The opportunities for internal communications are still not 100% clear, so any examples of emerging practice will be illuminating.

  1. An integrated experience

With so many digital channels in play, how do you provide an integrated and consistent experience?

Entering the Awards

AwardsAs well as some of these more cutting edge channels, our Awards also focus on excellent intranets, portals, ESNs and other more traditional digital communications.

If you have a project or initiative you’re genuinely proud of we want to hear from you. We’re accepting submissions up to 10 June across four different categories:

  1. Intranet essentials (new intranets or rework, core intranet elements such as search or people directory)
  2. Social, collaboration and communication (initiatives which showcase social networking, collaboration and internal communications)
  3. Business, mobile and frontline solutions (initiatives which deliver a specific business solution or solve a problem, serve the needs of frontline or customer-facing staff or showcase enterprise mobility)
  4. Digital workplace (initiatives which take a holistic view of the experience of work, agile working, or an element from the wider digital workplace

Winners get a lovely glass trophy and the recognition they deserve.

There are also a number of other benefits from entering. Full details are available on our entry page.  We look forward to receiving your entries!

Post author: Steve Bynghall

Thank you Steve. Best of luck if you enter the awards,


First published on the All Things IC blog 19 May 2016.

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