Riding the new wave of disruption – the fundamental role of communications in the future success of tech businesses

Business communications

There are numerous lessons to be learned from the way in which businesses have reacted to the current crisis.

James Steward, Director at Eulogy explains that the most prominent is the impressive way many innovative technology firms have rallied together to fight the pandemic.

For example, a consortium of innovative tech firms, including Siemens and McLaren, built the first to be approved ventilator system to treat Covid-19 patients in the UK.

Meanwhile, on the other end of the spectrum, Facebook has been forced to change its approach to misinformation – which had been spreading like wildfire on the platform – following a damning report into its handling of the virus.

When emotions are running high and our primary focus is survival, the well-timed and perceptive endeavours of businesses are celebrated and remembered, while poorly judged and seemingly profiteering actions face the utmost scrutiny. Reputations are being lost and won in this period of unprecedented change.

Never before has the role of prudent communications been so fundamental to a business’ success.

The rise of purpose-driven innovation

As we entered 2020, it was clear that Big Tech – plagued by years of the so-called ‘techlash’ – needed to pivot towards more purpose-driven innovation, with efforts concentrated around nurturing humanity, rather than controlling it.

This was a key metric to engage consumers, businesses and investors. Now, with Covid-19 having a firm grip on our lives, this has become fundamental. Our latest tech trends report has revealed that it is critical for tech business of all sizes to carefully communicate their true commitment to purpose-driven innovation to ensure their future success.

Attracting investment in uncertain times

As Mattias Ljungman, founder of VC firm Moonfire Ventures, states: “we will see how standout companies, who have always been purpose-driven, are now even more focused on having an impact.”

Amid the fallout from 2019’s over-valuated underperformers, many analysts and investors are weary of how tech firms market themselves. Meanwhile, the recent events and continued investment in ESG demonstrates that a clear commitment to purpose-driven and genuine innovation will be scrutinised more than ever. Take this moment to pause, assess your true purpose as a business, filter it with honesty and humanity, and then double down on your efforts to spread the word.

The sticky subject of ethics

For an industry notorious for promoting itself as transforming the world for the better, tech is at the heart of ethical challenges that transcend the traditional fault lines of culture and religion. However, the rise of Covid-19 has provided the perfect platform for the tech industry to demonstrate how it is putting ethics above the insatiable race for growth. And many are rising to the challenge.

There has been much talk of governments working with big tech to pool data to track movements, conversations and purchasing decisions to halt the spread of the pandemic. This is all very worthy in times of such hardship, but questions will continue to arise around the control that tech companies have over our lives. Tech business need to prepare for this now.

It’s important that businesses are upfront about the specific issues they face and what they’re doing about them. Honesty about what you don’t yet know the answer to will be valued far more than brushing over the subject or trying to avoid it.

It’s time to be emotionally elastic

Positive mental health has become even more pressing as people are on lockdown at home, working longer hours under increased pressure, and restricted from seeing loved ones with no let-up in sight.

As digital technologies become increasingly more pervasive and persuasive – often adding to these mental health challenges – it’s essential that businesses make clear commitments to providing valuable, wholesome and healthier experiences.

There’s never been a more important time for tech companies to be protecting the mental and physical health of their customers. Companies such as Headspace that are offering free mental health services to key workers around the world is a perfect example of the difference that can be made.

Ultimately, the way to retain customers will be by building an emotional connection that can endure over time. Businesses need to show customers that they have their interests in mind – even if in the short term if might appear to impact the bottom line. For example, a notification from your bank offering an extended grace period on that loan will go a long way to gaining long-term brand advocacy.

Collaboration is key in the fight for survival

Before the pandemic took hold of our lives, we were seeing great strides in collaborations between tech companies, aiming to overcome some of our greatest challenges.

The recent events have accelerated this tenfold. The greatest innovation often comes from times of hardship.

Ventilator Challenge UK is a prime example of this fight for innovation. But you don’t have to be a global manufacturing firm like Siemens to make a difference. Tech start-ups such as Skyrora, an Edinburgh-based rocket company, rapidly switched its efforts recently to 3D printing face masks for the NHS.

More firms rolling up their sleeves will inspire others to meet the challenges head on. Now is the time show the world the positive difference you’re making. It will unlock new innovations, position your business as forward thinking and, ultimately, set you up for stronger growth in the future. 

Deciphering your exit strategy

Long term growth and reputations will be decided by the actions tech businesses take now.

Now is not the time to be quiet. Roll up your sleeves, determine how you can make a real difference, at whatever level you can. Collaborate, give positive signals to the world, be frank and honest, and make some noise about it.

Now is the time to make a difference.

Eulogy is an independent communications agency based in London. Founded in 1996, Eulogy provides strategic communications support to a diverse range of technology companies, with client experience including Virgin Media Business, Epic Games, Ocado Technology, Oxbotica and Foundry.