Rapidly changing technologies continue to keep the field of communications in flux. Communications practitioners are under pressure to keep pace with the changing ways people use technology and adapt their communications models to a world where information flows in real time.
Besides social media (old news at this point), here are three of the biggest disruptive trends to track in 2013.
Mobile Mobile Mobile
This year mobile devices will pass PCs as the most common Web access tools, ushering in huge social and economic changes worldwide, especially Africa. Mobile revolutionizes communications because it delivers information to people in real time anywhere they are when they are about to make a decision or a transaction. The challenge for communications practitioners is to understand this new medium, integrate it across their broader communications plans (i.e., not just settle for a mobile version of your company website), and effectively measure the results of actions and interactions.
Crowdsourcing means using a large, often global, online community to innovate, create and generate ideas, or solve a problem. It comes in four flavors: crowd voting, crowd wisdom, crowd creation, and crowd funding. Think Wikipedia or Kiva. For communications practitioners the challenge is understanding how to coalesce a community together around a cause and then identify, cultivate, and connect social precincts (enthusiastic, networked, and knowledgeable people who can ignite passion for your cause and keep the community thriving).
The digital age makes it possible for organizations to collect and analyze massive amounts of data to target communications efforts, gain actionable insights, and adapt to audience behavior and consumption trends. How? Data analytics uses advanced statistical, data mining, and machine learning algorithms to dig deeper to find patterns in real time that would normally be virtually impossible for people to find. The use of big data for communications is in its infancy. According to the Waxing UnLyrical blog, three promising uses for communications practitioners are leveraging real-time data during a crisis, attributing/driving creative social public relations campaigns, and “lighting up” your public relations stunt. The challenge for communications practitioners is embracing big data and learning how to harness its power.
P.S. Check out the Human Face of Big Data project, which combines all three disruptive trends: mobile, crowdsourcing, and big data. Its organizers used a mobile app to crowdsource personal information from volunteer participants around the world.