Research Shows Communicators What’s Needed For Success In Technology

Research Shows Communicators What's Needed For Success In Technology

Leading an organization to embrace technology requires courage and steadfastness. Successful technological adoptions or transformations often place organizations ahead of peer groups and competitors. Businesses or institutions become more efficient and effective.

But the journey to technological success always requires many elements. It takes time to implement new programs and there’s a shortage of patience in most sectors. Plus, organizations must accept there will be failures and many initiatives will require complete restarts.

Three articles in my news stream during the last few weeks revealed discouraging cultural, operational and behavioral tendencies in many organizations attempting to embrace or utilize technology:

  • More than half (59 percent) of U.S. marketers surveyed by Demand Metric and Seismic said they do not personalize content because they don’t have the technology. Some 59 percent of respondents said they don’t have the bandwidth or resources, and 54 percent said they don’t have the needed data. (Read the article at eMarketer.)
  • More than half (52 percent) of nonprofit executives anticipate moderate or massive digital disruption in the next year, according to the survey, “Digital Pulse 2015,” by Russell Reynolds Associates. (From the article, “The Industries That Are Being Disrupted the Most by Digital,” by Rhys Grossman (@Rhysgrossman) in Harvard Business Review.)
  • Jay Baer’s (@JayBaer) post on the Convince and Convert blog, “Why Most Companies Can’t Yet Handle Great Marketing Technology,” covered the Adobe Summit. His conclusion:
    • “For us to be able to actually harness the power of experience-led businesses, we need to focus as much on the wizard as on the wand.
      “Any meaningful improvement in customer experience through marketing tech must start first in the heart, and then move to the head. If your organization doesn’t really and truly believe at the molecular level that customer experience is transformative, you’ll never embrace the risk enough to reap the reward.”

The conclusion from the three articles:

  • Few organizations are keeping up with technology.
  • The change required to fully utilize technology is difficult for many organizations, especially large institutions.
  • Most people are afraid of the consequences of failure.

My generation of public relations and communications professionals witnessed incredible technological change during their careers. Most were probably on both sides of many change initiatives. We often were early adopters of technology and pushed organizations to understand how digital capabilities would contribute to an organization’s overall improvement.


A Tandy 200, with 24K RAM, circa 1985.

Once while working for the Boy Scouts of America, my supervisor noticed my Tandy 200 computer with a spreadsheet tracking donations to the annual fundraising campaign. Was he going to compliment me on my fundraising reports being more accurate and timely?

“You better not let the director see you with that keyboard on your desk,” he said. “We’re executives. Only secretaries have keyboards at their desk.”

Today, people have keyboards in their pockets in the form of smartphones.

Years later when each BSA  executive had a laptop, PR often battled with information technology professionals who attempted to control the design and access and hinder collaborative workflows for publishing information on internet websites.

Never before has business and industry been better able to collect data on customers and the marketplace. By studying data and using it effectively in marketing and communications, organizations can create, maintain or enhance relationships with a wide range of customers and audiences. If your organization doesn’t position themselves for continuous digital transformation, your peers and competitors will adapt and succeed.

But success will come with a cost.


Billy Beane, general manager of the Oakland Athletics

A scene from the movie, “Moneyball,” illustrates the personal and organizational costs a leader must endure when leading change. At the end of the movie, the owner of the Boston Red Sox, John W. Henry, is attempting to convince Billy Beane, general manager of the Oakland Athletics, of the revolutionary nature of his sabermetric strategy—using baseball players with underrated skills instead of highly paid stars. Beane’s strategy was more successful than many teams with payrolls much higher than Oakland’s salaries. Henry wanted to hire Beane as his general manager.

“I know you’re taking it in the teeth out there,” says Henry, played by Arliss Howard, to Beane, played by Brad Pitt, “but the first guy through the wall… he always gets bloodied. Always.


John W. Henry, owner of the Boston Red Sox

“This is threatening not just a way of doing business. But in their minds, it is threatening the game. But really what it is threatening is their livelihoods. It’s threatening their jobs. It’s threatening the way that they do things. And every time that happens, whether it is a government or a way of doing business or whatever it is, the people who are holding the reins or who have their hands on the switch, they go bat sh*t crazy.

“I mean, anybody who is not tearing down their team right now and rebuilding it using your model, they’re dinosaurs. They’ll be sitting on their ass on the sofa in October watching the Boston Red Sox win the World Series.”

Beane did not take the job, but two years later, the Boston Red Sox won their first World Series in 86 years. Here’s a clip of the scene:

Do you and your organization need help embracing what technology can do?

Are you ready to be the “first guy through the wall,” know you’ll get “bloodied,” but understand it’s part of the journey toward success?

If you answered yes to either of these questions, contact me. My mission: To create connections between people and groups and develop strategic approaches that unify people in working together to achieve a common goal.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: