It’s not enough to just say you’re a tech company – you also need to act like one

tech company

In 2011, only one of the world’s five largest businesses was a tech company. Today only one isn’t.

These companies continue to redefine our day-to-day lives, from the way we order goods to the way we communicate amongst ourselves. Inevitably they have redefined business too. Companies big and small need to be at the forefront of technological innovation to remain competitive in their offering and to meet the ever rising standards of an increasingly digital consumer. But for a transformation that is felt amongst customers, employees and stakeholders alike, effective communication is essential.

Companies need technological innovation to survive, and clear communication to grow

With today’s incredibly short time-to-market and software updates being rolled out to users on a constant basis, it’s crucial for mid-size companies to ensure they’re using technology to move forward. Those that fall behind will pay the price when it comes to retaining customers or efficiency. Take machine learning for example; cloud technology means that today there are infinite means with which to implement it within a business. Whether you’re a TV broadcaster or a brewery, a multi-national or a startup, investing in this particular innovation will make you more competitive.

Companies not only need to compete with their peers, they need to protect themselves from new players too. Every industry is now under permanent threat of being disrupted by a tech company. Despite publicity often surrounding the demise of large legacy companies, it’s small and mid-sized businesses that are hit hardest by disruptors. Often without large reserves and with an isolated structure, these are the companies that must take steps to protect their future. Pioneers Uber and Airbnb know, the pervasive nature of technology means that tech companies now have the skills and assets to compete in almost any industry and the market into complete turmoil.

However, technological innovation alone is not enough to save a business from disruption. In this, communication transformation becomes just as crucial. Without pairing the two, any degree of development can be wasted. Customers and stakeholders need to be aware that a business is undergoing fundamental changes, but also reassured that it isn’t changing beyond recognition. Being at the forefront of change is what a company needs to survive, making sure the market knows about it is what will draw new customers and investment.

Every consumer is a digital consumer, now employees need to be too

The process of procuring goods and services has shifted online. In the consumer’s eyes, a company that doesn’t have an online presence is barely a company at all. Today, from window-shopping to after-sales service, this is where the customer experience actually takes place. For this reason, there needs to be an attitudinal shift within businesses. It’s how intuitive a company’s app is, how easy it is to complete a purchase and what their interactions with customers on social media are like that holds real sway when it comes to customer behaviour.

This requires an internal transformation of the company, starting with its employees. It’s vitally important that every member of the team has a clear understanding of the company’s renewed desire to be innovative and drive change. IT proficiency is indispensable, as is an understanding of the technological innovations the company is pursuing. With this understanding often comes an enthusiasm for the business’ new ambitions, transforming employees into spokespeople able to spread the new ethos to customers, partners and stakeholders but most importantly to apply it in their everyday work. This means that communicating clearly and consistently to the workforce acts by extension as means of signaling the company’s transformation externally.

It’s important to bear this in mind when hiring too. If your reputation as a tech-savvy company in pursuit of innovation has been successfully voiced it is sure to attract new recruits, keen to be a part of a dynamic work environment. This combined with the company’s new innovative outlook means a changing internal audience for which new forms of innovative engagement need to be conceived. As a company like General Motors switches from being an automobile company to a tech company, it’s undeniable that the way it communicates with its workforce must change. No longer is it an audience of engineers, designers and mechanics, it represents a much more diverse pool of programmers, developers and software engineers.


Consumers now look at innovative tech-facing organisations as those most likely to be able to service their evolving demands. Prospective employees see the growth of companies embracing technology, and see both the security and opportunity that could offer them in their careers.

However much truth there is in the claim that every company is a tech company, the reality remains that not every company is currently perceived as such. Regardless of how much technological innovation is a part of a company’s internal identity, if that is not reflected outwards, the battle for relevance is lost.

The narrative of technological evolution must become central to any outwards communication. At the same time, this narrative must be communicated across rapidly changing platforms. A cohesive articulation of how technology is helping a company develop may be the most important tool in ensuring secure growth in the 21st century.

Sophie Scott, Managing Director of Technology and Strategy, FleishmanHillard Fishburn