The Paradox of Our Digital World

To simply say the lines have blurred is a gross understatement. Digital has not just disrupted business and society it’s upended it to a degree that has not yet been truly comprehended.

While some can argue that a digital world is really geared to the individual making his/her existence more informative, fruitful, and personal you could also state that, in so doing, a digital society has caused irreparable harm to careers, businesses, and entire industries reeking chaos and uncertainty in its wake.

So what is it? Clarity or Chaos?

Let’s explore a bit. No profession has seen itself be completely impacted more by digital than marketing, advertising, and communications. Media is virtually anyone with an opinion and web profile.  Publishers are giving way to platforms placing technology companies into the “news” and “entertainment” business. People can skip ads with a mere touch of a button. Companies are now publishers, developing their own content, no longer relying on outside parties to characterize their products and policies as well as value proposition. Mobile continues to be a fascination but, quite frankly, it’s not been evolving as quickly as many would like or have us believe. Nonetheless, mobile is an important element of the new world order as it relates to consumer engagement.

As consumers, we have more information in more formats than any time in history. Does it make us smarter? Perhaps. Does it make us more inquisitive? Absolutely. Does it place more power in our hands? Yes. But has it meant we’ve really solved problems or injustices in sustainable ways? Not really.

As employees, we can voice our opinion and share our perspective. Does it mean anyone is listening? Maybe. Are we better able to balance the inconsistencies enveloping business today? Nope. Does it give us more freedom around choices we make? Yes, but.

The Paradox of a Digital World can be summed up in two words: “conscious choice.”

We have more information leading to more pathways and more connectivity leading to more diverse relationships and perspectives. But that only matters in terms of how you choose to use both.

With all this change, there are still constants. Data and analysis is one. Big ideas are another. We have always needed both but the nature and cadence has shifted. Instead of leading with a creative idea and then building strategy around it based on experience and instinct, we lead with a precise analysis of the situation uncovering influence and white space where a brand can capture interest and then purchase based on behavioral insight. From there we unpack a creative idea or strategic platform to discern the pathway that leads to engagement based on the business direction and priorities.

The new dynamic is using data, insight, and technology and discovering how to reach today’s consumer and employee in a manner that is both natural and meaningful.

What has resulted is the influx of new and different competitors – management consulting groups, technology-oriented companies, traditional research and analytics shops, talent agencies, media agencies – leveraging data capabilities into full-fledged marketing and communications offerings. All of this noise tends to confuse and obfuscate.

As professionals and as a firm, we need to be digital period. Every idea, concept, approach, and argument must be made in this context. We must move our clients even faster into being digital recognizing the challenges inherent in doing so.

Digital provides untold rewards but also is fraught with risk. We certainly need to be generating new ideas and new solutions while realizing that our own models, methodologies, and approaches will evolve given the pace of technology.

The choice is whether we embrace digital or fear it…whether we continue to innovate, invest, and create the future.

In this new world order, only the confident and curious survive.

And that, my friends, is our conscious choice!

Jim

Jim Weiss
Jim Weiss
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