A comprehensive role for technology in a pandemic world
Imagine a day in the life of a professional working in times of a pandemic today: Today you start checking your smartphone for messages and emails, and by default you will come across notifications from different apps. If it is a news app, you will most likely be tempted to read the most important developments related to Covid-19 as well as others you care about. In the meantime, a shopping, travel or food delivery app notification can also catch your eye, as you can go to the app to check details right away or pause in your mind to scroll through at least later in the day, when you have more time at hand Hand. If you are a fitness enthusiast, you will practice wearing your smartwatch to measure your progress.
You start your work on your laptop/computer/tablet or smartphone again and the device is most likely working on the Wi-Fi connection in your home/office. Some of you may even trade stocks between work or as a full-time activity during the day from the same devices. There are many virtual meetings on video/voice calling platforms throughout the day, and you can take short breaks from them by scrolling through social media feeds and perhaps browsing notifications sent on your phone now or earlier, visiting some of the apps that interest you, communicating online payments or make transactions on your banking or trading apps.
It’s almost dinner time, you’re still working and seeing a notification from one of the popular food delivery apps. Since you are so tired at the end of the day and can’t cook, you order from the same app. Once you are logged out of work, you can watch some series on your smart TV on the OTT app, video call and call some family member daily.
Have you noticed a common pattern during the day? We rely on technology! And our choices and our day-to-day decisions, which, too often, are driven by the same technology.
Injecting technology into the corporate world
The role of holistic technology is not only limited to our personal lives, but also to the corporate world. Technology has always been the game changer and distinguishes between brands that have risen and those that are ultimately left and forgotten. In the pre-pandemic era, new organizations were developed on a technology backbone, while traditional organizations also had to adopt technology across functions in order to stay relevant. However, the pandemic has accelerated technology adoption across functions – marketing, operations, finance, human resources, and customer service. From providing a platform to connect employees during WFH with customer service through social media platforms, to digitally paying vendors for seamless operations, technology was on top of it all. The focus of organizations has not only been on developing back-end technologies such as Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, and Machine Learning, but also to provide front-end technology-enabled platforms such as Chatbots, social media channels and other platforms to interact with customers and provide them with technology-enhanced services like no other.
The evolution of the role of technology in marketing
The pandemic has posed a sustenance and survival challenge for most brands as businesses, as well as local and international economies have been adversely affected. Thus, the burden falls on the marketing departments to create a strong brand identity and enhance recall in the minds of customers. Brand managers had to ensure continuous virtual engagement with their target audience, without overwhelming them. Key to this was a targeted approach, sometimes even on an individual basis, which could be achieved through in-depth data analysis. From mapping the most visited social platforms, areas of interest and preferences, to the timing of these visits, AI has aided in predictive analysis of consumer behavior. Research and development teams focused on identifying opportunities and points of contact that enhanced the potential for a call to action.
The evolution of the role of technology in communication
Once the opportunities are identified, the communication strategy comes into play. In a time of global crisis, audiences need a brand that sympathizes with them and establishes a direct connection. The tone of the brand message is of paramount importance and should be strategic keeping in mind the adversity of times. Therefore, it must be comprehensive and sensitive, even if delivered in a light way from the heart. The content of the storytelling should be strong and create a niche for it, separated from the competitor’s clutter.
Brands make use of technology, not only to understand consumers’ preferences but also to interact with them. A company announcement or product or service launch is now implemented by default. There are integrated platforms across digital and traditional media that not only allow brands to communicate but also allow them to listen to consumers through a two-way communication channel such as social media platforms and chat bots. Moreover, participating in content in the form of contests, polls or even memes, increases the time spent on the brand’s page and thus enhances brand recall for future purposes.
It has been observed that storytelling when driven by data makes the narrative more persuasive to stakeholders. Measurable and quantifiable data points have always been considered more credible, impactful, and relatable by the target audience. Nowadays, it would be a mistake to discuss storytelling without assigning the role of social media influencers and micro influencers. Brand managers need to make sure they choose influencers that fit the brand image and convey the right messages through it.
Just as there are two sides to every coin, technology can be deadly if not handled properly. Brands need to be extremely careful here because every member of the audience present on social and digital platforms is able to influence decisions or spread the word, known as “going viral.” An unaddressed individual consumer complaint, which is visible to other consumers, can seriously affect the brand’s image. Hence, brands need to be responsive if they communicate via social media platforms.
New customers (Millennials as well as the older generation) are increasingly weaving technology into their daily lives to replace the old way of doing things – digital transactions, online ordering and delivery, staying connected virtually, among others. Hence, today’s brands have a broader landscape, where technology erases all boundaries. The world can be their customers as well as indirect brand ambassadors, if technology is appropriately combined with marketing and communication.
The author is Gaurav Batra – Founding Director at Value 360 Communications.
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