Look at it any way you want - but the digitization of communication is a fact. Hundreds of studies published around the world in 2018 and daily experience in teaching and consulting prove this. Despite all the controversy surrounding privacy, hacking, fake news and other negative aspects of virtuality, it is spreading like spilled wine. 45 percent of the world's population uses social media. Convenience is king - it's just too good to pass up.

The digital opportunities go beyond all intellectual possibilities to grasp them at their core. Money is flowing into digital channels in communications and marketing, almost like in a casino. The two big players in particular, Google and Facebook, are raking it in. It is and remains difficult to crystallize the real results and the real costs/benefits, even if the controlling options make precision appear to be the case. At the end of the day, when you take a closer look, despite all the illusions of being able to address specific people individually according to their needs, you are still left with the taste of having bet on the best possible racehorse portfolio.

The "Digital 2019" report impressively shows how digital hype is spreading around the world. More than 360 million people went online in 2018 - more than one million every day. Fifty-seven percent of the world's population has access to the Internet; in Switzerland, the figure is around 90 percent. The average user spends more than 6.5 hours on online channels (around 4 in Switzerland), which, extrapolated for 2019, equates to around 1.2 billion years. Most of this time is spent on social media.

People are on the move: Two-thirds of the world's population use a cell phone. Shopping, paying, and donating by cell phone are becoming increasingly important. Switzerland may be a bit more critical than the world average, but it is also making great progress. This is also shown by an entertaining film from the University of Zurich. It is about the Internet usage behavior of the Swiss population, the dominance of U.S. platform companies and the significance of automated, algorithmic decisions for everyday life; and about the question of what effects Internet usage may have on our well-being.

The consequences of the digital tsunami are many, even for communications and marketing professionals. First of all - you can't do without it. No matter how small the organization, it needs a whole set of channels and platforms, on and offline, to even be noticed, to put itself in the spotlight, to make the mission public, to bind people and achievers to it. Convergence, consistency, integration are more than just buzzwords. And the whole thing has to be thought of in the long term and strategically.

While honesty is a quality demanded online, personas are nothing but fiction, artificial constructs to be served. Narratives, too, increasingly artfully interweave truth and fiction to meet artificial expectations of "authenticity." In this respect, organizations are faced with the ethically questionable task of appearing as authentic as possible, even at the expense of genuine authenticity.

Thanks to social media, anyone can explore and conquer the world, maintain friends and networks everywhere, without blowing a gram of CO2 into the air. Nevertheless, for all the global possibilities, localization remains important. And with the current density of development, it is essential to keep up to date and closely follow all trends and hypes. Innovation cycles are short, and we have to get used to the stress. This is all the more important as the risks to image and reputation, or rather credibility, become more and more diverse and the sources of these risks less and less controllable.

So it's hardly surprising that online communication, digital transformation and all the associated topics are currently filling up the continuing education industry's courses. The search for orientation in an unmanageable process space of the post-industrial online revolution is great. There is always a gap to be bridged between understanding a theory and putting it into practice in daily work. In many cases, learning takes place with doing. Where better than in the workplace to learn how to post, tweet, blog...? Training institutions, on the other hand, can offer framing, overall understanding, and embedding in a new communications landscape, in addition to an entry point. They can also create the understanding around the new necessary organizational, social and structural needs. Structures, tasks, processes, and even the entire way of working and thus budgets will have to change fundamentally in the next few years if we want to keep pace with digitization in communications as well.

Prof. Rodolfo Ciucci
Lecturer for Communication
University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland
School of Business
[email protected]


Posted in Digitalization, NPO Strategy

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