When I was in college many, many years ago, my major was communication arts. This was then a relatively new course and my parents preferred I take a more substantive course such as business management or marketing.
But being the headstrong woman I am, I prevailed and I graduated with a Liberal Arts degree, Major in Communication Arts.
Thirty-five years later, I ask myself, did I make the right decision? While I am a strong believer in not dwelling on the past and moving on, no matter what the consequences of past decisions, as I reflect on my career, I believe that my ability to communicate, to persuade, to inspire, to motivate has been an integral part of my success.
A colleague once told me very few can say they managed a P10-billion company. How did I manage such a large organization? While there was no magic wand, strong, integrated communications was key.
Now as I look at major changes in the work environment and in the way we live, I see that communications has been a major driving force. The manner in which we communicate has dramatically changed. The Internet has significantly changed the way we work and play.
In the past, communications was verbal or written. Multimedia referred to TV, radio and print. Today the menu has greatly expanded to include cable, e-mail, texting, smart phones, MP3 players, YouTube, instant messaging, Skype, blogs, social networking sites, etc.
Today's businesses need to understand and integrate and leverage these new communication vehicles. More importantly, business leaders must strive to personally understand, integrate and leverage these new communications vehicles. This is a great challenge, for many older leaders are technically challenged and reluctant to change and learn.
I once had a boss who said to me I predict that these new business models (referring to Internet-based companies) will not last! Again as I reflect, he was in a way correct as many of the pioneering Internet companies could not find a business model that was profitable and therefore collapsed. However, Internet-based businesses did not go away. Instead, new ways of leveraging the Internet evolved.
· The travel and leisure industry has changed. We research hotels and airfares thru the Internet. We book hotels and tickets thru the Internet.
· The way we bank has changed. We withdraw and deposit at ATMs. We pay bills on- line or at ATMS.
· The way we research has changed. We research through the Internet. Google has become a verb as in we google for information.
· The way we socialize has changed. Blogs. Twitter. Facebook. n fact, I have friends who found their significant others through the Internet.
· The way we play has changed. Farmtown. Farmville. Mafia Wars. Cafe World.
· The way we document events has changed. We now share memories by posting pictures and videos online. Indeed here in the Philippines, the manner in which we vote is about to change. Electronic voting.
The world is indeed getting smaller. Life is becoming faster. Consumers are accustomed to receiving information quickly and accurately.
Today's businesses must have a strong, well-thought out communications plan in place. Strategy is execution. And central to strong execution is communication. Particularly in times of crisis. A weak communications plan can not only destroy a business, it can destroy an industry, and we have seen this happen in the Philippines, in real estate, in insurance.
Globally we saw how the slowness of Toyota to communicate exacerbated its quality issue. Even the golfing industry has been adversely affected by the poor communications strategy of Tiger Woods during his personal crisis.
I have no doubt the manner and options we have in communications will continue to change and evolve. I also have no doubt that business leaders must not only understand the hot buttons that drive their business but master the art of communications with their consumers and with their employees. To do this, business leaders must be willing to continually learn and experiment and evolve.
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About the author
Malu Dy Buncio is the Chief Business Development Strategist of Mansmith and Fielders Inc., the only training and consultancy firm focused on marketing, sales, strategy and innovation. She is also available to facilitate customized strategic and business planning sessions for clients. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.