Global CommTech Report 2023: The hubris of communication

Global CommTech Report 2023: The hubris of communication

Author: Thomas Mickeleit

No nesting follows now, although the results of the recently published Global CommTech Report 2023 would give cause to do so.

One must put a question mark in front of the parenthesis as to whether a sample of 329 participants worldwide is representative of the status of CommTech in companies and agencies. Both the number and mix of respondents cast doubt on this. In this respect, a gap remains to be filled that allows an assessment based on robust data. Directionally, however, the report helps with location.

Here’s the thing: 67% of respondents from agencies and 52% of respondents from companies consider themselves extremely or very competent when it comes to identifying and applying new technologies for communications. These optimistic self-assessments stand in stark contrast to the evidence about what technologies are in use – and for what purpose.
In 2023, 41% of respondents still use Excel spreadsheets for project management. 10% are of no use at all. 39% use Excel spreadsheets for their contact management. 25% use databases and only 21% use a general or PR-specific customer relationship management system (CRM). The report aptly notes that it is alarming when people who run a “relationship business” use technology designed to manage relationships to the small degree that they do. A considerable overestimation of one’s own capabilities must be stated here.

This opens the next construction site. When asked why technology is being used, 88% said they were seeking greater time efficiency with it, and 66% said they expected it to be more cost effective. In this respect, the results of the report are consistent with the findings of the research and transfer project carried out jointly by the CommTech WG and the University of Leipzig. Communications managers use technology to complete the same tasks faster and more of them. Of course, it’s a good starting point to make processes faster and more cost-effective. At the same time, this reveals a deep misunderstanding about the usefulness of a technology stack in communications. It shortens the potential that technologies can provide as innovation drivers toward a comprehensive digital transformation. It is about fulfilling new tasks that were previously not in the scope of communication at all.

87% of respondents answered that they see the greatest impact of CommTech in monitoring, impact measurement, and analysis. Yes, this is an obvious weakness in most communications departments, which often still work with quarterly clipping reports. However, only 15% see an impact on media relations. That is short-sighted, because we have to say goodbye to shooting out mass mailings to journalists according to the motto “a lot helps a lot”. Instead, “relations” can emerge when we play out relevant content based on data from social networks and, at the end, from personal interactions that generate attention, spark interest, create impact, and generate connectedness along a stakeholder journey. A glimmer of hope emerges. Looking at the investment plans of communications executives, 34% of agencies and 28% of companies say they plan to invest in communications technologies in the next 12 months. This is the highest value in the ranking. The advice to investment decision-makers is: before investing, it is better to look at what technologies are already in the house and make them usable for communication. This is especially true for customer relationship tools that marketing already has in the engine room.

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