25 years is a short time in many ways. The typical 25-year-old human is just a few years out of school and starting his or her professional career. Most 25-year-old jetliners are still flying thousands of miles every day.
Over the past 25 years, there have been only six British prime ministers, four U.S. presidents, and three different chancellors of Germany.
But in technology—particularly in communications technology—25 years may as well be a different geologic age. According to the Pew Research Center, “In June 1995, 14% of the general public said they went online either from work, school or home. By September 1996 that number had climbed to 22%.” Less than 1% of the world’s population had Internet access in 1995. By 1998, the figure was still only 3.1%.
And that was sllllooooowwwww Internet access. “Fast” 56K modems weren’t introduced until 1998. How does that compare to today’s web speeds? Andrew Spaulding recently did a retro access test to see how it would feel, and as he notes, “(at) 56,000 bits of information per second…one Gigabyte of information would take about 40 hours to receive. To put that into perspective: approximately 1 Gig of HDTV data, delivered at 2015 speeds, amounts to 7 minutes of video.”
Communicators today have a multitude of options to convey their messages, allowing them to address business concerns in real time. This change has helped companies save time and money, interact on a larger scale with the market, and enjoy real-time feedback.
Technology has permanently revolutionized the communication processes in five key ways.
Automation simply means using technology to perform or execute recurring business processes. This strategy minimizes manual effort and costs, while increasing efficiency and streamlining processes. According to a 2018 report titled The Sorry State of Digital Transformation, only 22% of businesses had not embraced automation. This number has probably gone down, considering that there is so much for a company to gain.
Communication automation is the use of software to help businesses stay in touch with their customers, suppliers, employees, and partners.
Traditionally (that is, even within the past 25 years), businesses used emails, text messages, and phone calls to communicate. Unfortunately, all of these methods of communication are time-consuming and demanding. Emails and text messages are not fully engaging, as they don’t give potential customers the chance to get more information immediately.
With communication automation, businesses have been able to combat this challenge. The use of chatbots on platforms like Messenger and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) has changed the landscape. Employees can focus their time elsewhere while ensuring that communication remains efficient and timely.
Communication technology has also increased immediacy. This has even been more evident with the recent shift to remote working. Innovative technology in the form of applications like video conferencing has made it possible to streamline communication and make it immediate.
And remote workers can now engage with their counterparts more efficiently using various applications beyond video conferences. This has improved the personal aspects of working remotely while enhancing teamwork.
Immediacy, in the form of real-time communication, has eliminated the need for employees to send long emails. A quick conversation on IM can boost productivity while reducing the delay that often results from email communication. Plus, messaging is now mobile; you can bring your communication device wherever you go and respond at any time to your customers or anyone else.
Technology has enhanced collaboration in the workplace. It helps businesses connect with stakeholders wherever they are and at any time. With increased collaboration, there’s also a high level of flexibility in communication. Employees, managers, and co-workers can connect more quickly than it was possible before modern advancements in technology.
The days when communication was limited to formal written communication or phone calls are long past. Gone are the days when people had to be chained to their desks to communicate with other people. Businesses now have a competitive edge by being able to use various digital platforms, which they can access remotely. These include:
- Google Docs for creating, formatting, and sharing documents with colleagues
- Skype, Google Meet, and Zoom for conferencing and messaging
- Slack for instant messaging and voice communication
- Asana for team collaboration and work management
- ProofHub for centralized project management
- Filestage for organization and management of a company’s content review process
One of the principal concerns for businesses today is secure communication. Unfortunately, communication is continually threatened in modern companies, mostly due to the widespread use of email. With recent technology advances, digital communication has now become more secure.
It provides software-based data encryption and end-to-end hardware that blocks unauthorized access. Some features that have played a role in enhancing security include fingerprint and facial recognition. They add a higher level of protection that would not be possible without innovative technology.
Companies can now take advantage of security software and algorithms to ensure sensitive data is only accessible to the right people. With the correct use of all the available security measures, businesses can protect themselves from malicious hacking attempts.
Beyond contacting co-workers, customers, and managers, employees can use technology for other tasks. For example, they can make presentations through interactive and easy-to-follow platforms. For example, screen sharing on applications like Shindig, Google Meet, and Skype makes the sessions more engaging. The audience can follow while raising questions or contributing to the topic.
Through such presentations, organizations can communicate with their customers better and more effectively. Customers understand products and services better and see how they meet their wants and needs.
Another technology that is radically changing the business world is artificial intelligence (AI). Through the incorporation of AI into business tools, companies can understand their buyers’ behavior more deeply and customize their marketing to match those needs.
Businesses can also use digital signage for both internal and external communication. For example, they can use it to promote special offers to their customers more effectively than when using static signage.
Businesses have embraced technology to enhance various office functions, especially communication. There is now a myriad of platforms and applications available for communication and collaboration.
One of the most valuable benefits of technology is saving time. Additionally, it has enhanced versatility, automation, and immediacy. Businesses that are slow in embracing communication technology put themselves at serious competitive risk.