Perspectives

2021 Outlook: Three Questions on Technology

Ed.’s note: Our agency leaders recently took a beat to ponder their beats. The following is a look back on the year that was in technology, and thoughts on what lies ahead for the industry in 2021.

What has this past, unprecedented year taught you as a communications professional most about the technology space?

Enterprise technology may have been the only winner of 2020. Communicating an enterprise technology story to a mainstream audience has always been an uphill battle. Those close to the industry know enterprise technology is the backbone of modern business, yet the narratives have always lacked the flash to regularly generate mainstream coverage. However, with the emergence of the pandemic and the rapid societal shift in the ways we live, work and collaborate with one another, enterprise technology finally has its moment in the spotlight. From vaccine development to grocery delivery services, there is now a greater understanding and curiosity to understand how enterprise technology powers our everyday lives.   

What do you believe separated the struggling tech brands from the more resilient ones during this past year and why? 

In 2019, the concept of “digital transformation” was at peak buzz. While many companies were talking about it, in 2020 the pandemic quickly separated the companies who had truly embraced digital transformation from those who were only giving it lip service. For many companies, 2020 was a tale of two journeys – those who had already embraced digital transformation and were looking ahead to a post-COVID world, and those who spent the year scrambling to catch up. And while those “catch-up stories” had early legs with the media, the true winners were those that advanced the story, demonstrated progressive thinking, and could bring that approach to life through specific examples or bold predictions.  

What will be the biggest communication opportunities for technology brands in 2021 and why?

The lines between being a company that creates technology and a company that leverages technology to do better business will continue to blur in 2021. We’re seeing more and more companies “in-housing” their technology, similar to a shift we’ve seen in the ad and marketing world with mixed results. But the world also still needs those innovators – the ones thinking 10 steps ahead to anticipate how the continued constraints of managing a pandemic will change the world in both the short and long term. 2021 will be about the balance of the practical and visionary; similarly communications teams will find themselves with an opportunity to not just paint a picture of what’s to come, but also to provide a practical roadmap for getting there. And because technology is ubiquitous, smart communicators will look for ways to bring their stories to a broad spectrum of verticals and introduce their clients to new audiences.  

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