How fit is your corporate communication?
The communication departments and communicators continue to lag behind in digitalization. This is clearly demonstrated by the Digital Fitness Study 2017 by Lautenbach Sass, a communications consultant, and the PRCC personnel consultancy. So now comes the general question of whether corporate digitalization will ever be fit enough? This topic deals with the communication and innovation consulting Evernine Group from Munich.
Since corporate communications and their communicators are not yet sufficiently prepared for the digital transition – it seems – 236 communicators were interviewed online in August this year: communications managers and public relations officers from German companies, organizations, agencies and consultancies.
The basis of the survey was the so-called “Digital Fitness Model”, which describes the maturity of corporate communication and communicators in terms of digitalization at four stages of development: “beginners” who have little experience with digitalization, “followers” who wait until have established standards for digital communication, “Experts” who have already adapted to digitization, and “Enablers” who drive digital transformation.
The thesis was as follows: Half of the interviewed communicators think their own department is fit. However, the study comes to a different conclusion with regard to the five fields of action examined – strategy, structure, processes, resources and technology. This means that there is definitely still need for action here.
Digitalization continues to pose major challenges for corporate communications
Digitalization presents companies and especially employees with major challenges. Often there is still respect for innovations, fear of change and lack of know-how. Here, the management is now required to motivate and strengthen their team leaders and employees in order to train them to “fit” as possible experts.
But what is the current situation in German companies? What knowledge do employees have and, above all, to what extent have they addressed digitalization?
- As many as 44 percent of the surveyed communications departments were classified as followers. This means that they orient themselves towards others and have so far initiated only isolated changes.
- 33 percent of the departments are beginners who have little experience with digitalization.
- Only just under a fifth is one of the experts who has adjusted their own department to digitalization and implemented a large number of changes.
- And to the highest level, the Enablern, only three percent of respondents. They are driving digitalization throughout the company and are role models for others.
Are your employees fit for digital communication at all levels?
The biggest problem is digital fitness when using new technologies
In addition to questions of how far the Corporate Communications department is in digitalization, it also asked about the areas in which they see the greatest difficulties.
According to the study, the digital fitness of companies is the least developed when using new technologies. More than half of the departments only make it to the beginner level because they still work without digital tools and platforms.
In addition, it has been shown that there is a lot of catching up to do in the area of “strategy” in terms of digitalization issues. 42 percent of the departments are just the beginners, another third are followers. This becomes especially clear, as entire departments neglect the evaluation of their digital communication. Only 18 percent carry out comprehensive analyzes – and that is actually too little. Awareness is there, but digitalization is still not given the necessary importance.
Nevertheless, communicators attribute a higher priority to the digital transformation than in the previous year. How can this be recognized? The biggest increase in importance over the previous year is the introduction of internal collaboration tools and the evolution of digital activity governance. By contrast, the least priority is the introduction of agile working methods and the hiring of new employees with expert knowledge.
There is still hope
Processes in corporate communications are currently probably the most developed – at least the departments perform best. In this field of action, 34 percent are classified as experts. In other words, they have integrated the processes of digital and classical communication and established the exchange with other organizational areas. Nevertheless, agile methods such as Scrum, Kanban or Design Thinking are still being used rather cautiously in corporate communications.
In summary, it can be said that the Corporate Communications department is gradually adapting to the challenges of digitalization in several ways. While there are numerous qualifications in the “Processes” action area, there is a lot of catching up to do in the area of “Strategy” in particular. The differences between companies and agencies / consultancies are minimal – as still 25 percent see the biggest challenge in new technologies, because they still work without digital tools and platforms. When asked how satisfied companies are with the digital fitness of their corporate communications, 86 percent say they would like to be more involved in digitalization.
The digital transformation of corporate communications can only succeed if the management level creates the framework conditions and actively shapes change. The communicators are ready to change. Mind you: this does not release each individual from the individual responsibility to actively strive for their personal development. If you want to get digitally fitter, you can do a lot for yourself. After all, this is one of the central requirements of the digital transformation: to tackle things easily, even against resistance.
The detailed study is available for download here.
Source of title image: iStock / Cecilie_Arcurs