As head of Weber Shandwick Asia Pacific’s technology practice, I’ve been asked several times for my thoughts on the top tech and communication trends for 2017. What I see is a continuing trend – the constant speed of change and brisk pace of advancement in science and technology. This contributes to the need for us as communicators to help audiences understand evolving platforms available in the industry, and how they fit within the clients’ communications strategy.
Think about the space program as an example of the pace of change. It took centuries for mankind to make it to the moon, and then just decades to reach Mars. This kind of fast-paced advancement is playing out across many facets of the tech world. We have seen incredible advances in a relatively short amount of time across the industry in areas of computing, telecommunications, handsets and mobile devices, artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality.
It’s a great time today to be an entrepreneur in the tech space, especially in Asia Pacific due to its environment, where there are numerous opportunities available due to a parade of advancements in fields like artificial intelligence, robotics, mobility and more.
From a communications perspective, when we see new technologies being launched, we see flourishing new industries being introduced which thus create a new kind of consumer and demographic. We are expected to be in the know and provide insight on these new technologies, to close the knowledge gap of how potential users can incorporate this technology today and what it means for our clients. Our role is more important than ever since we can’t afford to lose the human element at the heart of the technology story. How does it help people? How does it make lives easier, healthier, stronger, and smarter? When clients don’t understand a new technology, instead of being intrigued, they fear it and are unable to see a benefit.
The opportunity to narrow that gap of understanding, to communicate strongly and clearly on the benefits of new tech, particularly with an ageing population, is what I see as the key focus for 2017 for all businesses.
The next question is of course: how can we stay ahead of all these changes and advances in technology? How can we best prepare ourselves to tell the story of the newest, latest and greatest technologies?
It’s important to keep on top of the technology itself, to stay up-to-date on new features, read all the white papers, product reviews, and get hands on with it yourself when you can – but for me, the one thing I would recommend is enrolling in a philosophy course.
I’d suggest a talk on ethics in science development, or adding a Socrates or Taoism text to your reading pile. It might sound a little out there, but if our job is to consider the human element at the heart of all these technology advances, then getting a broader understanding of what it is to be human, can only help.
It’s not about the multiple new features, the pixel, or the design of the chipset, it’s about the human element, and how we reach the human heart of the story.