The Future of Communications was the topic of Power Panel 3 which consisted of corporate communication leaders from leading organisations – Shaily Vaswani –VFS Global, Debasis Ray –Tata Trusts, Nitin Thakur – Max India, Poonam Kaul – PepsiCo India, Sonia Huria – Viacom 18. The talk was moderated by Arun Sudhaman – The Holmes Report.
The world of corporate communications is changing rapidly. What will the communications landscape look like in the future? How will the business change? Where do you go to hire – i.e. attract and retain the right talent? And, what does this mean for communications professionals? How are organisations harnessing the change? These were some of the questions that the discussion focused on.
Social media was the one ruling element that had transformed the world of communications. With social media blurring the lines between internal and external communication, Sonia pointed out that there are three legs of evolution –i) the advent of data analytics, which is targeted communication which monitors, analyses and improves communication ii) then, ROI which is no longer based on size, parameters and iii) there’s a collaboration for innovation – as we use Twitter Blue Rooms etc.
Change is the only constant today. Corporate communication is changing and has a new role now. But, the change has to come from top to bottom, said Shaily. Agreeing to the fact that there is a change happening was Nitin, who went on to say that whether that is enough is the question! Pin-pointing what he called “cataclysmic changes” he cautioned – “The new generation will rewrite the communication playbook, which should take us to the next level.”
On a dramatic note, Debasis described our living pattern – that we are in a “live reality show”, and we are constantly being reminded that media has gone beyond all traditional lines. It was a matter of how we get down to “unlearn” a lot of things. Many things in the organisations need to be reimagined. How do you make that much-needed shift in the organisation – that you have to respond and now, questioned Poonam. Plus there is the changing dynamics within the organisation. You come face-to-face with the fact that “digital is the new kid in town”.
Communications people are best suited to deal with this, as we are all about storytelling. Who are the people who are going to rewrite the playbook and unlearn everything? Quick on the uptake, Shaily put it plain and simple – “Content is one area we are always grappling with, for content is no longer King, but the Emperor”!
“We don’t have complex requirements in the business,” was Nitin’s opinion; and our profession does not get the cream of talent. We are looking for a wizard in Instagram and Snapchat, with a deep understanding of SEO. All we look for is a positive attitude and an aptitude to learn. Success is connected. The ideal would be if you can complement the talents of different people, said Debasis, so that it can contribute to corporate success.
People with digital skills are in the spotlight now. The struggle is where do you hire the digital people from? This phase is evolving, and everyday we are learning new things. This brought into the picture the aspect of training – to fine-tune and upgrade skills, pointed out Poonam. And, as for the chances of a training deficit, she was emphatic – “absolutely”.
Then the topic of soft skills came into the forefront. Soft skills is a sheer necessity in the world of communications today. Talking about softer skills, and how to find those skills, Sonia suggested that you should hone people management skills too, with the ability to hustle, and a tenacity to lobby. Poonam emphasized that it’s important that it should be people with passion. On the other hand, it was a blend of soft and hard skills that Shaily would recommend. It’s about how well you can connect with the stakeholders within the organisation, because collaborating and networking is important. Referring to an “organisational savvy” was Nitin’s answer, with the ability to zoom in and out.
Today the playing field involves communicating with the Millennials and how does one deal with them? You learn from the young people, and for digital you will have to look for young people – was Poonam’s conclusion.