I thought it would be interesting to look back at Deloitte’s 2021 tech trends report and see how some of the nine trends it identified could affect businesses and how these changes will impact the PR work we do.
Trend 1: Organisations will be using tech to transform their business strategy
Deloitte predicted that more organisations would start using emerging tech like advanced analytics, automation and artificial intelligence (AI) to continually refine their strategy and keep them agile.
By tracking real-time data and analysing how customer demands are changing, organisations can constantly adapt to, and in some cases, stay ahead of, changing trends.
It’s not just the overall business strategy that emerging tech can help to shape. Organisations, working with their PR teams and agencies, can use this regular supply of information to keep their PR strategy tracking the latest customer or client behaviour trends. Data-driven PR can deliver fantastic results for organisations.
Trend 2: Organisations will be working with new tech to modernise their systems
Driven by necessity due to the pandemic, organisations are focusing on modernising their legacy systems, not just by migrating them to the cloud but by working with external specialists to prepare areas of their business for modernisation. Some are starting to look at a platform-first system where they’re willing to change how they operate to work with the right digital platform.
For example, instead of trying to replicate in-office systems in virtual environments, some businesses have created new ways of operating designed around their now virtual (or hybrid) structure. Do we really need to replicate a physical office digitally, or can digital guide us to a new way of working?
The insights businesses can create from creating unified systems across the business can help make their PR efforts more effective. Teams across the business share information much more effectively – such as the sales team having the latest PR content to share with their prospects.
Trend 3: More organisations will use emerging tech to deliver personalised support, training and feedback to employees
Although there are a few negative use cases in the news (like excessive employee tracking), there are positive ways to use the data systems like time tracking software and employee portals generate. Businesses can analyse the data to optimise the performance of teams and business functions. They can also personalise the employee experience – such as developing individual learning, recognition and engagement programmes.
Via these, businesses can help employees feel part of one team no matter where they’re located – for example, they can help to ensure that employees get similar perks, recognition, training and opportunities (and have the same visibility) no matter where they’re working from.
If organisations want the best people to work with them, one of the most effective things they can do is create a team that’s engaged with their work and happy with the support the business is providing. It creates a wonderful, authentic and consistent drip-feed of positive PR around the company. As we see organisations use emerging tech to create personalised experiences for employees, we should see these businesses getting an overall boost to their reputations.
Trend 4: Organisations are focusing on introducing tech that supports diversity efforts
Deloitte predicts that more organisations will use analytics, AI and automation systems like natural language processing and machine learning to support the development, delivery and evaluation of diversity, equality and inclusion (DEI) programmes.
While people have certain unconscious biases, current AI also has a bias problem as people programme these tools in the first place. So, while technology can help, DEI programmes will always need the empathy, creativity and lived experience that only people can provide.
PR has an important role to play here (and it’s essential that PR departments and agencies address their own DEI issues if they want to fully support and promote their client’s diversity efforts. How are we promoting our clients? Do we have favourite journalists or publications that we always use? How can we work with a more diverse range of influencers? These are essential areas we need to examine so that we can support our clients as they ramp up their DEI initiatives.
PR is always evolving – although there are still some systems and practises that we seem to cling on to as an industry. It will be interesting to see how much emerging technology reshapes businesses and how PR will adapt to support our client’s changing needs.