A peek into the new year to inform and challenge thinking, resources, risk

In many ways, 2019 was the year that so many things seemed to come together in our profession. Greater realization of the impact and opportunity of digital. Adapting the use of data and analytics in decision-making. Getting better at content and context in telling an organization’s story. Dealing with complexity and connectivity in a 24/7 world. Experimenting with increasing confidence. Measuring success with result indicators tied to business goals.

Grasping this new reality of communications and marketing has resulted in more efficient and productive use of resources, a more clear path to brand efficacy, and higher degree of trust between and among key stakeholders. As we approach 2020 (sounds like a sci-fi reference), there are a number of trends and possibilities in our sights. While no one can pretend they are Nostradamus, I’d like to offer a few thoughts for the coming year that challenge the status quo:

  1. Ethical AI – It is now more important than ever, as technology evolves, that privacy, access, transparency and usage of information be incorporated into AI models and systems to achieve trust.
  2. Healthcare begins shifting to prevention – Investment, innovation and behavioral change will result in new relationships between and among companies, physicians and patients. This means seeing pharma companies through new eyes and vice versa.  
  3. Culture predicts strategy – The focus of communications and marketing will shift from strategy formation and deployment to culture assimilation and improvement to determine strategic intent.
  4. Mobile drives leadership – Mobile technology will enhance leadership in multiple ways, including as a platform that projects key information in a personal way; a feedback mechanism; and a contextual format to enhance learning.
  5. Employees are your next innovation– In a digital world, employees take on a more active role in the operations of the business. As such, employees are viewed as contributing to the success and future intent of the business.   
  6. Data is knowledge; insight is differentiation – In 2020, data and analytics are table stakes providing information to the user. The real value add though is insight. Insight results in differentiating the organization in the marketplace.
  7. Science as story In the healthcare field, translating science into a story that one can relate to will be critical in breaking through to key audiences.
  8. Forecasting influence to predict behavior – The state of analysis is now at a point where influence can be tracked or led to behavior and performance.
  9. Relevance portends growth – In a social/digital reality, if you’re not relevant, you’re not viable. Relevance today is about engagement with stakeholders.   
  10. Unfair competitive advantage rests with agility, clarity – 2020 will further the understanding that brands of all sizes need to be quick, with a clear narrative and organizational designs that pivot with changes in the marketplace
  11. Purpose outperforms reason – Survey after survey indicates that a large majority of employees are disconnected from the business. They understand the strategy and can justify being there but feel lost in its application. We will see organizations rethinking their reason for existing and translating it to specific customer needs in 2020.
  12. Big data gets bigger and smaller – The ability to synthesize large amounts of data is only getting more profound. Ironically, breaking down data into usable information such as insights is growing, making decisions more precise and timely.

Deciphering the upcoming year is in many ways a game of chance. We certainly know all the pieces circling around us but forming a picture of what’s ahead is a bit more challenging. One thing we do know: the progress and lessons that led us here form the basis for where we go next. In that regard, all roads lead to becoming more connected, more informed, and more confident.


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