Between the financial crisis of 2008 and the current crisis, caused by the Coronavirus, there was a profound transformation of the communication processes and its underlying technologies. In 2008, e-mail reigned (although it still has an indispensable role), internet pages were not very dynamic and mostly searched through the computer, the desk phone was still an essential work tool and SMS the natural way to communicate in mobility. Many of the social networks were still emerging and business communication was mainly done through these more traditional and formal channels. But, while still in its infancy, digital transformation and mobility were spreading across all domains.
Let’s see: in 2001, Wikipedia was born, which revolutionized the access to credible information on a multitude of topics, opening the door to a world of knowledge available to everyone; in 2003 LinkedIn was born; in 2006 Facebook became a network open to any user; in 2007 the mobile phone experience was redefined with the iPhone and Apple Online store appears in mid-2008 with the surprisingly high number of 500 applications, starting the explosion of apps. The iPad was launched in 2010 as a reliable computing alternative and can be used anywhere comfortably and without the limitations of size and autonomy of notebooks. Uber and WhatsApp appeared in 2009 and, on the content side, the Ricky Gervais Show became in 2006 an instant success also in the podcast format, having broken several download records.
From then to the present moment, there has been an exponential growth of digital channels, with Facebook being the social network of choice, initially for younger generations. But they too have started to abandon it to move to Instagram, and more recently, to the TikTok video platform. On the other hand, Internet browsing is also done, mostly, on mobile devices and voice calls have been increasingly made in applications such as WhatsApp.
The moment of profound change that we are going through now will also have a significant impact in terms of customer expectations and the adoption of new technologies. On the other hand, it forced a reset, a potentially healthier redefinition of expectations, in which costumers and citizens, as a result of the feeling of insecurity and uncertainty that afflicts us all, started to give greater relevance to values such as credibility, trust and reputation. Furthermore, brands have recovered the theme of purpose, but now redefined and putting employees and society ahead of their shareholders.
This change also led to the acceleration of the digital transformation and the adoption and use of tools that allow to be closer to the customer in a easier format, closer to what would be a face-to-face reality. The fundamental theme is to provide a better experience for everyone, costumers and consumers. Online presence had the potential to allow much more than just knowing the brand. It also makes it possible to manage the relationship with costumers and, at the same time, create a more interactive and enriching relationship with each of them. Clearly, the organizations that can execute in this strategy, given the lengthy time expected under the current rules of relationship and social distance, will be the ones that will win.
In turn, the interaction models, powered by video tools, changed the way we managed to keep in touch, being now commonplace when, in the recent past, they were only possible with expensive videoconferencing equipment. The current online learning processes will also be overcome by models of much greater complexity and interaction, immersive and in which it is possible to recreate the face-to-face experience and stimulate the connection between students in a more dynamic way.
More importantly, it is important to remember that this transformation in still in its infancy, the result of technological developments that are promoting new scenarios and interaction models. Virtual augmented reality will transform our day-to-day lives, as many of these technologies become the norm in mobile phones, and as 5G networks become pervasive, creating what can be guessed an infinite bandwidth space for applications that take advantage of these technologies. Traditional mobility with mobile phones, smartwatches and wearable tech will create new experience models.
In other words, technology allows new approaches to communication and communication will have an impact on how it will be used. The creativity in using these new technologies to create better and more enriching experiences will surely surprise us and, when we look back at the reality prior to this crisis, the world will have changed.
Initially published in Executive Digest, online version. Opinion article by Rodolfo Oliveira, Managing Partner at BloomCast Consulting.