e4m 40 Under 40 Summit: ‘Technology has always created more jobs than it has taken’

Atul Sharma, Managing Director India, Ruderfinn Asia spoke about ‘Next generation of PR and communication: charting the course and navigating the future’ at e4m 40 Under 40 Summit & Awards

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Dec 1, 2020 9:16 AM

At the virtual unveiling of the second edition of e4m PR & Corporate Communication 40 Under 40’ list, Atul Sharma, Managing Director India, Ruderfinn Asia delivered the keynote speech. He shared his insights on the theme - ‘Next generation of PR and communication: charting the course and navigating the future’. 

Sharma commenced the session by explaining how technology has changed the world. "Technology is definitely changing the world as I see. We've seen all of these changes happening around us. So we used to hear a lot about the changes that technology can bring but today, we are seeing self-driving cars that use AI and robotics in complicated healthcare procedures, automated and machine learning in mobile, automobile or mobile manufacturing for that matter, and data analytics changing the way financial business institutions do business. 

So across industries, we see that technology is changing the way business is being done. But if I look closer to our industry, we see that there are a lot of sophisticated technologies that we keep hearing about and we are made to believe that they're going to simplify the world of communication. And the biggest example is measurement of outreach which has always been a sore point in our industry. But today, with a few simple clicks, you can get a lot of answers which you could never get in the past." 

Explaining how new technologies like AR, AI and VR have become part of our modern folklore and how such technologies influence the world of PR communication, Sharma highlighted five major trends. 

"So the first one, which I feel is going to be critical, is the way we are going to do our business’ predictive analytics. Predictive analytics is nothing but how we make sure that we use all the big data that we're generating, and we can predict the future of communication in a better way. 

Example: For an auto brand, if you could know the seasonal changes in various states and the pattern of breakdown that comes with those seasonal changes every year, or the change in weather,” he noted. 

Elaborating on Artificial intelligence and how it has already changed the world of communication, he shared, "Another megatrend which I feel is going to change the world of communication is Artificial intelligence. It's already changing the world of communication. But it's only a matter of time that we start seeing those changes in our day to day lives. 

It won't be long before AI agents will be able to create good headlines, good copy and provide marketers and communication teams with a lot of options to choose from, and a human can always review them, edit, test, revise and add their own creativity. Of course, the flip side is that machines will get so good that humans will no longer be needed but I think that will never be the case because, in my estimation, I think technology has always been a net job provider. It has created more jobs than it has taken." 

Speaking about influencer marketing, Sharma remarked that anybody with a smartphone can become an influencer. “Another trend is ‘Influencer marketing’. The way we do business and the way influencer marketing is changing, I think today anybody with a smartphone and a social media account has the power to be an influencer. 

Recently, Charli D'amelio became the first TikTok user to reach 100 million followers. And the interesting part is that she's a 16-year-old social media star, who has joined the platform just a year and a half back. So, how radically you could rise in the world of influencers and be a force to be reckoned with. We see more and more consumer brands which are getting onto this trend. We are also seeing this closer home, the rise of influencers, whether it's the iDiva or Technical Guruji or Bruised Passports.”  

“I want to talk about the growth of internal influencers, as more and more organisations will realise that they can use their internal brand ambassadors in a big way. They can ask their employees to pick up healthier lifestyles, get more fitter, eat healthier or to read certain books. I think the possibilities are endless. The point that I'm trying to make here is that, we tend to believe people who are closer to us, who we see that they are changing their lifestyles and not possibly celeb influencers who possibly doesn't even believe in the product that they're endorsing, so why not look at internal influencers, who are actually living the philosophy that they are projecting and can easily influence people around them,” he further added. 

Sharma opined that voice-activated devices or assistants are the future and will change the way communication will pan out. “Another trend is ‘Voice technology’ and we feel that the future will definitely belong to voice-based virtual assistants or some voice-activated devices like Google Home and Alexa are going to be more and more a part and parcel of our daily life especially in a country like India where people can converse really well in the native languages, but can't type in English. So think of it, instead of typing keywords in a search engine, chances are that users are more likely to speak to their voice systems, it's just a matter of time. So, I feel that this is going to be another big trend which is going to change the way communication will pan out.” 

Sharma stated that videos are something that everybody watches, be it with headphones or on mute or just by following the subtitles. “Another megatrend which I feel is changing the way communication is done and I'm sure this is something which each one of us observed. We live in a world where everybody wants to write a book, but nobody wants to read one. Surprisingly, that's not true about videos, we love watching videos. We watch it with our headphones on or watch them on mute or following subtitles but we watch and there are complex algorithms at work which are serving these to us on a platter like that and there's no end to it. 

During this pandemic, videos were much needed and also the video streaming services. It’s definitely helped. I can say this for our company that it helped us keep our flock together. Every social media platform including Instagram, YouTube, Facebook Lives, they've seen phenomenal growth in their live streaming services. Also, more and more brands have started using it in the way they're trying to communicate it. I saw some of the brands launch their smartphones on AR, and I think that's one good thing which came out of the pandemic.” 

Concluding the session, he said, “I'll just leave you with one final thought which is that the cycle of knowledge is going to be always on the importance of upskilling. And it will be important because as you upskill, you keep on adding what you have today, and what you will get tomorrow. I think those are the things which will define the future. So my only last thought to all of you is keep upskilling, keep learning and keep the industry the way it is. And let's take it to greater heights.”

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