The tech sector is one of the most vibrant growth engines in the UK economy - in fact one in eight of the UK's workforce is in technology. Technology such as mobile communications, social media and cloud computing, is constantly evolving and as a result, is rapidly blurring the division between what is a pure technology business and a business that employs the latest technology to deliver efficiency and competitive advantage.
Any business you care to think of is using these new technologies in some form or other with the application of technological innovation changing how they do business at a faster rate than ever before. Think of Tesco and how they employ technology to track consumer preferences and personalise their customer marketing, or Hailo, the black cab app, that has revolutionised how we call a taxi.
But while new technology is benefiting companies, the explosion of social media is proving a double edged sword for many. Suddenly everyone you do business with is just like a journalist with access to an audience of millions. And, if you fail to own and manage your own story you will be at the mercy of what others are saying about your brand. The recent situation at HMV as staff tweeted about being laid off as it happened and the story went viral, is a good example of how social media can damage a corporate reputation in seconds.
In a world where access to the best journalists, influencers, customers and talent is becoming increasingly competitive, an emotionally engaging story can be the differentiator that sets a brand apart from the competition. Consumer technology brands like Apple and Google have got it right by going beyond talking about their products to project a lifestyle and brand story that resonates with consumers and resulted in their market dominance. They have successfully created a narrative about what they stand for and projected a vision of the world that people can emotionally connect with. More technology brands need to follow their lead.
Technology companies from around the world are facing the same problem: how to communicate their story across a growing number of paid, owned and earned channels to a variety of audiences to generate sales leads, attract top talent, and appeal to the best business partners. I always advise my clients to start listening to the conversations that already exist about their business and sector then build their communication strategy around conversation territories that already have engaged audiences. By engaging with these existing conversations and engaging with these established audiences in a natural way, over time companies can start to build an on-going narrative that creates a broader picture of what they stands for with core stakeholders. By adding value to the conversation and supporting the community with information and insight they will gradually becoming thought of as an expert and thought leader in the field.
It's a challenge for most companies to move towards communicating in this way because it challenges the notion of always being in control of the conversation. But over time it will deliver real rewards and illustrate that your brand stands for more than just the products it sells.