What Digitalization Means for Corporate Communications

Communications leaders have a role to play as the business prioritizes digital.

Although 87% of surveyed executives agree that “digital” is a big priority, digitalization can have very different meanings to different leaders. “When that organizational priority trickles down into communications, the meaning of ‘digitalization’ can seem even less clear,” says Gartner research leader Elizabeth M. Barrett.

For communications leaders, digital transformation creates distinct imperatives as elements of the business proposition evolve

Gartner research reveals distinct opportunities for business leaders to enhance and transform the organization with digital technology across products, channels and operations. In principle, digitalization leads to an integrated, customer-centric perspective across the enterprise. For communications leaders, digital transformation creates distinct imperatives as elements of the business proposition evolve.

Products

Business leaders refer to modifications of the product or service portfolio along a spectrum of change. For example, using data and technology to enhance existing products and services is an enhancement that requires less change, while launching new products and services beyond the core business portfolio requires a major transformation.

Communications has a rather obvious imperative in channel digitalization: to leverage digital technology to facilitate and improve communication

The primary imperative for communications in product digitalization is to build the organization’s digital acumen and a baseline understanding of new technologies. Employees who better understand the opportunities and implications of the technologies impacting their industry and customers are better positioned to identify product and service improvements and innovations.

Channels

Many organizations use digital technology to improve channel coordination through e-commerce platforms and mobile customer service. As channel improvements become more sophisticated, more organizations hope to integrate all customer service channels (e.g., phone, online, in-person) into one seamless experience that aligns with customer behaviors and preferences.

Shape a Culture to Support Change

Communicators play an integral part in the success of organizational change

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Communications has a rather obvious imperative in channel digitalization: to leverage digital technology to facilitate and improve communication across the organization. Communications can experiment with different digital media and channels to identify which channels best reach, engage and influence stakeholders across the spectrum externally and internally. Many communications leaders are already experimenting with technologies. The aim is to integrate a variety of technologies (apps, social media, etc.) into their channel portfolio — not just to improve communication, but to enable employee-to-employee networking and collaboration.

Read more: Turn Employees Into Storytellers

Operations and workforce

Many digitalization efforts aim to automate or increase the productivity of labor-intensive business processes. As these efforts progress, we see broad improvements in individual corporate functions, such as digital manufacturing or supply chain digitalization.

The imperative for communications in this area is to identify which digital tools can help their function work more effectively. Possibilities include software that manages workflows, improves knowledge management and boosts team collaboration. A very few progressive communicators are experimenting with chatbots to take some basic messaging activities off their team’s hands. As these artificial intelligence tools become more prolific and advanced, the opportunities will only increase.

Communications Leadership Council members can access Discussing “Digital” With the Street.

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