This past year featured everything from the loss of beloved public figures to one of the most bizarre elections in U.S. history. As a public relations professional, I believe this year had the most impact in terms of the shockwaves it sent through the communications industry. I previously looked at how Trump’s campaign defied all norms of how we traditionally view communication with the public. With 2017 here, I’m left wondering what issues are going to drive the PR conversation in the tech industry.
Since I work with entrepreneurs all over the world, I decided to ask a few of them what issues and trends will drive the discussion in 2017:
Big Changes To Big Business
It seems clear that technology will continue to change the way enterprises operate. More than that, technology will be more deeply integrated into how big companies do business, becoming an inseparable part of every industry.
- Shlomi Ben Haim, CEO at JFrog: “No matter the industry, every company on the planet is transforming into a software company. The big tech companies like Google and Facebook are becoming the model for how we build and deliver software. So the open source trend of recreating the internal secrets of these companies should continue to thrive.”
- Doron Reuveni, co-founder and CEO at Applause: “In 2017, we’ll see further integration of our digital and physical worlds, with more companies than ever focusing on the quality of the digital experiences users have with their brand.”
PR Takeaway: Whether you’re pitching a startup or a tech giant, storylines in 2017 will focus on the blurring line between innovation and enterprise, and how they are quickly merging. Even the most traditional, low-tech industries are turning to innovation to help them compete, and tech PR professionals need to begin expanding the range of publications they target to take advantage of this transformation.
An Automated Conversation
The automated revolution is coming. Whether it’s automated vehicles, drones or other technologies, automation and artificial intelligence are going to change our day-to-day lives.
- Ron Atzmon, managing director at AU10TIX: “The tech conversation will focus on the challenges businesses and services are facing from regulation, especially cross-border regulation, and how they are looking to automation to help them solve the problem.”
- Torsten Oelke, CEO at CUBE: “Automation is the key to the future of global industry and will move the needle towards affordability and sustainability. Provoking this topic will be security and privacy issues, and the future of labor in light of automated solutions. This isn’t just a trend of 2017; it’s the conversation about what’s to come.”
PR Takeaway: Look for opportunities to pitch stories about how automation will not only challenge businesses, but will also give more traditional companies new opportunities for growth that haven’t existed before.
New Interfaces And New Interactions
Technology is constantly facilitating new forms of interaction that didn’t exist in the past. In 2017, long-predicted forms of new ways to interact with communication will take major steps forward.
- Yuval Mor, CEO of Beyond Verbal: “We believe that voice will become the next user interface for consumers. With voice-activated devices such as Amazon Echo and overall advances in IoT playing a more important role in providing users with valuable data, [this] can be used for self-improvement.”
- Benny Arbel, CEO and co-founder of Inception: “In 2017, we’re going to see virtual reality change the way we live our lives forever. The evolution has already begun, and in 2017 we’re going to see it affect how we carry out day-to-day activities and even how our brains work. [Augmented reality] will start to come into play, and we’ll see people start ‘teleporting’ themselves for meetings and lectures as the boundaries between what is real and what isn’t start to blur. We will see the integration of social media and communication into VR. This will have a tremendous impact on humanity in terms of how we want to — and how we should — live our lives.”
PR Takeaway: Much like PR professionals have to adapt to using new tools and practices, so too will our industry have to learn new ways to pitch stories leveraging the emerging technologies that we are pitching. VR and voice will become two new tools in the tool chest.
Seeing The Overall Picture
Beyond innovation and business disruption, the tech industry is about people and the reasons they’re creating these technologies. The next year will see even more professionals asking about the “why” behind the tech.
- Jonas Gyalokay, CEO at Airtame: “Answer the question: Who do you do tech for? Tech is developing at a rapid pace. Too rapidly, in a lot of instances. We need to discuss why we do tech and for whom. What difference is your company making? Tech is a tool, not the goal.”
- Matthew Hodgson, technical co-founder of Matrix.org: “Technologies like Bitcoin have proven the viability of democratized user-run alternatives to centralized platforms such as Facebook. A new generation of decentralized services is now emerging, liberating users to own their messaging apps, file sharing, social networking and more.”
- Eyal Gura, co-founder and chairman at Zebra Medical Vision: “AI companies will focus on creating practical implementations that deliver measurable benefits to humanity. The transition from exciting technology to real-world use cases in the automotive, healthcare, agriculture and IT domains, to name a few, will drive the next great technological leap, improving the lives of billions of people.”
PR Takeaway: People matter – both the ones behind the scenes and the ones directly benefiting from new technology. Stories that focus on the human element of innovation will be even more important next year.
This is just a glimpse into the new PR landscape that’s emerging. If you want to be able to tell the story of innovation in 2017, you need to understand the trends that will be top of mind this year, whether it’s these or others. No matter what, your PR strategy needs to be able to adapt to these emerging new conversations.