Riding the super tech dragon

Guest Column: Atul Sharma, Managing Director, Ruder Finn India, highlights the importance of leveraging sophisticated technologies like AI, Voice and Deep Data to ride the next digital wave

e4m by Atul Sharma
Updated: Feb 11, 2021 9:17 AM
Atul Sharma

In the last two decades, technology has effortlessly seeped into our lives, playing a definitive role in shaping the way we do business. From simple functions like getting our messages across the world to complicated tasks like deciphering data & analytics and the use of artificial intelligence - the world of tech has, more often than not - charmed us, surprised us and shocked us by its limitlessness. 


The emergence of new-age tech has driven PR industry to shed its traditional practices and metamorphosize into more engaging, absorptive, and multi-faceted avatar. Over the years, the industry has transitioned from merely being a messenger between the brand and the media into a role that offers brands with, solutions-based insights, analyses consumer behaviour, their purchase trajectories and creates imaginative integrated communication strategies. Today, PR firms across the globe are adopting sophisticated tech tools to align with a brand’s larger purpose to deliver efficient communications models that are seamless, intuitive and emotive. 


While the tech takeover seems like an intrusion to some and a blessing to others, this isn’t limited to our personal front. Businesses and corporates have thrown caution to the winds, to restructure, reorganise and incorporate technologies that will not only make them more efficient but also simplify complicated processes for the future. Similarly, the world of communication has consciously shifted towards leveraging advanced technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, adapting to new forms like voice to reach out to its base. 

A case in point is Ruder Finn’s RLA Collective that was acquired back in 2018 to strengthen our digital and analytical capabilities. Its proprietary tools and cutting-edge research partnerships enable us to harness data for quick, impactful decision-making – including who to target, how to influence them, track where conversations are headed, and what messages best resonate with them. Specialised content development, research and using brand engagement tools such as social marketing, micro-influencers, geo-targeted retail campaigns and AI-driven digital advertising, today agencies are increasingly leaning on technology to garner in-depth intelligence to understand the mind of the consumer. 


Much of this dependence can be credited to the rise of social media and the influencer community. Internal influencers have grown in significance as organisations increasingly realise the artificial divide between internal and external comms and make use of advocates in new and exciting ways. For instance, at Ruder Finn, when we wanted to push our employees to have a healthier lifestyle, we picked up our fitness expert from one of our employees, and the message resonated loud and clear, prompting our teams to take out their running shoes!

Being a platform where opinions are aired and broadcast live, digital consciousness and crisis monitoring are becoming permanent fixtures in corporate communications calendars. Catering to this demand, PR agency have had to come up with innovative ways to stay ahead of the game. One such example is the advent of region-specific technology solutions like SONAR. What’s SONAR you ask? It’s a media crisis simulation platform, billed as an Asia-specific solution, to the rising number of disasters experienced by firms in the region. SONAR allows clients to experience a fast-developing social media issue or crisis in real-time. Considering there is no one size fits all approach, these customised approaches help manage crisis situations based on specific geographic areas and needs of the client, even before the crisis has occurred. 


Considering most activities around came to a grinding halt last year, live streaming emerged as a popular medium connecting people around the world. Live streaming that earlier seemed like the neglected cousin of the video became the go-to for not only corporates but brands as well. At Ruder Finn, video streaming services kept our flock together. Similarly, every social media platform including Instagram, YouTube, Facebook saw growth in their live streaming services. Brands and companies are taking this further, be it for entertainment or business applications, immersive technologies will make their way into every aspect of our lives.


Especially after 2020, Predictive Analytics as a next gen trend is here to stay. Predictive analytics in tandem with machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI), and the Internet of Things (IoT) is going to lead the world of communication and hopefully make it way more predictable. After 2020, humankind is surely looking for a predictable future. AI is making huge strides in natural language selection, which the PR professionals should keep a close eye on.


If deep data is the digital flavour of the season, voice is slated to fundamentally change the rules of digital engagement. In keeping your eyes on the ball and ears to the ground, what unites corporates and PR agencies is the workforce and the challenge to keep them motivated and driven. This is where the essence of Voice shines through. CEO Ruder Finn Kathy Bloomgarden who launched an Alexa skill called "Kathy’s Thoughts” in 2017 believes that nothing connects people better than voice. Taking a cue from her, several Ruder Finn clients have incorporated voice offerings to support their business needs and have found interesting results. For instance, Bayer used voice technology to widen the reach of its “Making Science Make Sense” STEM education initiative. With scientific experiments available on Alexa’s Bayer Science Studio platform, the company can now reach young people via non-traditional methods of learning. In addition, the lessons are more compelling for kids and they address parents’ requests for experiments their children can do outside of school. This is just the tip of the iceberg. The possibilities that Voice offers are infinite. 

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of exchange4media.com

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