Magazine article Communication World

International Communication toward 2010

Magazine article Communication World

International Communication toward 2010

Article excerpt

It's hard to imagine the international business environment changing as much in the next 16 years as it has in the last 16.

Yet the rapid moves we've seen, particularly in the way we share information, should be viewed as an evolution rather than a trend. As professional communicators, our ability to keep pace with this progression will help determine the role we will assume within business management in the year 2010.

The future of corporate communication also will depend on the continued development of our industry's primary resource -- its people.

As we deliver our messages to increasingly splintered audiences today, we are confronted with an environment in which signals bouncing off satellites give viewers around the world a front seat to war, and newspaper reports in one country can ruin a company's best-laid plans in another. Our jobs have certainly become more complex.

Looking ahead, though, communicators need to be careful not to let the technology within our profession take over and become the end rather than the means. By the year 2010, it is conceivable that face-to-face interaction will be largely unnecessary. Our ability to see each other through our telephones andcreate and send documents from anywhere we like via computer modems and portable fax machines could easily render meetings and frequent business travel redundant.

Without doubt, this improved efficiency will reap significant dividends, and business managers will expect the communication function to use the necessary tools to effectively deliver their messages. However, they also may look to us to deliver the "human" side of an increasingly insular environment.

In the last decade, our industry has, by necessity, evolved from an instinctively run, contact-driven publicity business to a more complex, strategy-oriented function. At the same time, it has continued to be measured by the same yardstick -- results. Although the tools we use to get those results are changing, it will continue to be the people in our industry who determine our future. The written word, good judgment and common sense will never be replaced by hardware.

Set sights higher to meet future demand

That being said, we must make considerable strides to stay ahead of the game in the future. As the information age evolves further, the value of communication will increase for all kinds of organizations. Those who can articulate their messages in this sophisticated environment will succeed, while others will struggle.

As consultants, our clients 10 years ago were usually directors of communication, public relations or marketing. Today, our clients are commonly executive vice-presidents or CEOs. In leading corporations, the communication function has moved upward and toward the centre. That trend will continue unless we fail to provide the necessary training and development to put our people there.

Improving the quality of our people needs to be a priority, and one answer would be the creation of an international training program. To make it happen, agencies and major employers of communicators would need to be prepared tocooperate and invest a percentage of their budgets with the aim of elevating the standards of our industry.

By 2010, the chief communication officer will sit beside the chief executive officer, the chief information officer and the chief financial officer. …

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