There is no one industry that has remained untouched by the never-ending updates and upgrades to technology used in standard business tasks.
On a large-scale, businesses like Uber, Netflix, and Bitcoin have harnessed the power of the latest technologies to turn their respective industries on their heads. Tapping into easily accessible local transportation, film and television entertainment, and cryptocurrency will never be the same, thanks to the disruptions attributed to these companies. There is no going back, and most people probably wouldn’t want to if they could.
Disruptive communication may have a negative connotation on its face, but it actually provides a net positive for most people in the business world and in everyday life. However, ensuring success in disruptive communication requires that companies listen to customers and make sure employees are on board in efforts to achieve company goals.
Rapid and Regular Technological Changes Have Altered the Way Professionals Communicate
The digitization of the world has been accompanied by changes in the way people communicate. Think about the advent of the iPhone alone, revolutionizing the way people talk on the phone, send text messages, and surf the web. A little more than a decade later and 81% of adults own a smartphone, whether iOS or Android, according to the Pew Research Center.
The difference between digital technologies and the previous generation’s IT-based technologies is stark. Mobile, social media, big data, predictive analytics, and smartphones are leaps and bounds ahead of the hardware-bound IT iteration of innovation.
The business world must quickly adapt to this “new” world, finding unique ways to reach consumers with handheld devices, smartwatches, sensors, chips, cloud infrastructure, big data, and all the business intelligence tools that people from all walks of life are already using. To just name a few, technologies such as robotics, nanomaterials, A.I., bioinformatics, the Internet of Things (IoT), and biotech are transforming the world in ways most people could not have imagined a few short years ago. These innovations inch closer to highly normalized usage all the time, across sectors and industries.
Digitally Inspired Communication Disruption Leads to Overall Industry Disruption
Communication is at the heart of industry disruption. When a company wants to change something, it must first listen to consumers and identify the changes they want or need. No company needs or wants to mess up something that already works. However, if a startup can make a product, process, or the customer experience better, enacting these changes is the ultimate way to cause positive disruption.
One big challenge of disruption: it can be difficult for business leaders to envision exactly what any particular disruption will look like in concept vs in action. Think again about the release of the first iPhone, which empowered employees with the ability to search the internet on their own device at any time. Employers might have been concerned about disruptions in productivity and with their responsiveness to internal organizational communications.
On the flip slide, rapid communication – often through social media, Artificial Intelligence or chat programs – can help disruptors learn from customers in near-real time, improve their processes and iterate on the fly.
Identifying an Industry Poised for Disruption
How can a company cause disruption? It starts with pinpointing the weaknesses of their competitors, and creating innovative products or services. For example, big companies are often very slow to adapt to the latest technologies. Startups, on the other hand, typically excel in rapidly scaling the latest technological advancements to meet consumer needs.
A key strategy that innovative leaders use to identify industry disruption is utilizing communication skills to listen to organizational leaders’ pain points and then identify spots where a disruption could be a powerfully positive thing.
Big Companies vs. Startups
Communication professionals know how to identify the weaknesses of their competitors, leveraging that knowledge to create better, more innovative products or services. These leaders in communication help to steer their entire team in effective communication to streamline their efforts to make strides in innovation and productivity.
It is far simpler to foster this type of communication in startups and smaller companies since they are often more closely knit as a group and agile in terms of embracing change. Most team members understand the nature of a startup and are more adaptable than team members in larger companies. It is also important that they adopt new technologies to enlist technological support in lieu of a larger staff. Bigger companies can fill in the gaps with human resources to hold out for the latest digital innovations.
Further, miscommunication is quite common in large companies. Considering the fact that these companies can have one thousand or more employees, it is difficult to keep everyone in the loop and staying on the same page.
Communication and Co-Innovation Work Together
As a result of rapid-fire technological innovation, change is happening faster than ever and coming at business leaders from all directions. Since every business wants to become digital, to some degree anyway, it is becoming more difficult to keep up with it all with innovation alone. Businesses must continually seek out new ideas, both internally and externally, to deliver more intuitive and integrated services and products to the marketplace.
Co-innovation, in which a business works closely with clients or other businesses to develop new ideas, has become a key solution to this issue. It allows sharing of both risks and rewards, as well as the development of well-thought out joint plans and greater chances of success.
While co-innovation has become a popular approach, it requires even more communication among a greater number of people from different backgrounds, meaning that communication leaders must learn how these puzzle pieces work together and how to bring them to full fruition among the various parties.
How to Improve Communication, Growth, Innovation, and Accountability Amid Digital Disruption
Mobile devices and apps are excellent examples of tools that allow for greater innovation, accessibility, and convenience for employees, but that can also be difficult for organizational management. Tracking becomes a whole different animal for matters like expense reports and travel accommodations, for example.
Here are just two ways that communication leaders approach this matter to maintain strong communication, growth, innovation, and accountability while managing digital disruption:
Adapt and Adopt When the Need Is Clear
Businesses may resist adopting certain digital tools for a time, but most companies eventually succumb to the ease and convenience of laptops, mobile phones, and tablets for their employees to use. In 2017, it was normal for employees to have better digital tools than their company offered. In 2019, these companies are stepping up their game. Whether through BYOD policies or purchasing their devices, business leaders increasingly see the value of this investment.
Whether the latest innovation is a software program, a mobile app, or a new device, communication management teams understand that it is crucial that organizations adapt to promising new technologies as quickly as possible. These leaders study their respective industry, the technology, and the marketplace to determine which tools to rapidly adopt and which ones can wait.
Create an Integrated System
Syncing information on internal hardware devices with data on mobile phones and tablets can greatly reduce confusion. It also helps to integrate information across all relevant departments so everyone stays in the loop via electronic filing and cloud storage. Moving away from paper receipts and photocopies is a key step toward large-scale acceptance across all industries that many companies—as many as 35% or more—are still reluctant to commit to.
Bold, innovative communication management professionals are leading the charge in trying to get organizations to integrate systems to gain maximum visibility and streamline processes.
Start with Internal Communications
When a company wants to disrupt an industry, a team effort must be made.
Leaders can’t expect their employees to understand what the company’s goals are unless they have been clearly communicated. Clear, concise visuals can often be extremely valuable. For example, communicators can use charts and graphs to demonstrate how they plan to achieve their goals.
Meetings can seem tedious, but they are at the core of enhanced communication. For leaders, they ensure that all communication is clear and can be effectively passed down to lower-level employees. However, these meetings must be focused, action-oriented and contain clear goals.
In addition to meetings, brainstorming sessions are a time when everyone can lay their ideas on the table. Even if an idea doesn’t sound promising at first, don’t dismiss it out of hand. Once everyone throws in their opinions and knowledge on a certain topic, leaders may find that that idea propels their businesses to the next level of success.
Always use the latest tools for technology. In today’s technologically-advanced society, there are more ways than ever before to communicate with employees and customers. Leaders must harness the latest tools to ensure they are meeting the needs of their customers as well as their employees. From video conferencing to email to instant messaging, companies should leverage multiple tools to improve communication.
Sparking innovation, another key element to industry disruption, starts with listening. Employees’ voices matter just as much as the customers’. In the past, it could take a long time for an idea to reach executives who had the power to give approval. Today’s communication tools make it easy to share innovative ideas instantly.
Don’t be afraid to iterate on a trial-and-error basis. Leaders can’t hold back from trying different things and thinking outside of the box if they want to create a product or service that revolutionizes what’s already available. According to Alex Goryachev with Forbes, discussing failures is key to industry disruption.
Effective Communication Leaders Are the Key to Adapting and Disrupting
Through effective communication and co-innovation, a startup can create products and services that truly delight customers. Earning a Master of Communication Management online from the University of Southern California can help today’s leaders understand how disruption, co-innovation and communication go hand in hand.