The fact well documented is that we have entered a 4th revolution. After agricultural, industrial and digital we are now entering one dominated by technology and artificial intelligence. This new technology revolution is blurring what we own, who we are and what is real, altering the way we live our lives. It is dominated by market forces powered by machine learning and is impacting our industry and the world around us.
Firstly, disruption in the market by machine learning has created a race to the bottom financially. The ‘gig economy’ – where people work on an ad hoc basis powered by machines – has taken over a number of influential sectors (with predictions for more to come) and driven down prices. On the other hand, whilst companies are driving their prices down there are technology brands like Apple who can demand £1,000 for a phone whilst we struggle to buy a home. Whilst companies and Government try to catch up, society is losing faith and loyalty with the traditional as they know that they can switch providers, relationships and opinions with the swipe of a phone. A recent Populus survey backs this up, revealing apathy towards these traditional systems, from big business to Government:
Before we hark back to ‘the good old days’, this revolution has also been a force for real societal change. The ability to share views, actions and opinions with everyone has forced people to think about their societal and ethical impact on a world that they can now see and feel at the click of a button. In turn, consumers can now make a choice when it comes to their work place, their business values and how they live their lives. This is having a powerful impact on how companies operate. Where once a CEO could hide behind his/her glass office, they are now expected to be more transparent than ever; to share their personality with the world, to openly discuss business ventures and reveal plans for the future. This has forced companies and business to think about their approach to society. Those that don’t are exposed across social media like United Airlines or even forced into administration like Bell Pottinger.
So, what can we all do?
- We must think much more about our corporate social responsibility and ethical impact, within our industry and with our clients. We have already seen a shift to more ethical work, with awards submissions focussing more on corporate social responsibility and new client reporting standards. Moving into 2018, businesses need to lead the way and prove to an ethically aware audience that they share the same values.
- Crucially, businesses need to shift their thinking towards their business purpose. Many companies believe that their purpose is to make money but this misses the point entirely; businesses need to be thinking about their wider social purpose. This means operating true to a purpose that serves society, respects the dignity of people and so generates a fair return for responsible investors[i]. More challenging still, it also welcomes public scrutiny to prove it values its customers and the society it claims to work for.
- Finally, businesses must learn to become genuine storytellers. As companies are forced from their glass offices to stand hand in hand with their audiences, they must also learn how to truly empathise and interact with their stakeholders.
What is the best way to achieve this? Insight led, audience first stories that resonate with those that they are trying to reach. In a world filled with data and technology this may sound surprising. But it is within this technological revolution that people crave emotional interaction more than ever before. The companies that understand this will continue to earn that sacred trust, build advocacy and therefore survive the challenging road ahead.
Lansons prides itself on its story first, channel neutral approach to corporate and consumer storytelling. To find out more about how we can help you define your corporate narrative across paid, earned, shared and owned channels please contact Megan Murray Jones.
This article is part of our Winter 2017 newsletter.