In relation to the timeline of communication tools, websites are only a millisecond old. Even if we disregard paintings on cave walls and the formation of the alphabet and just start from the first printed word, websites are mere saplings against the giant redwood.
Yet it is hard to imagine a life without websites; they have become so pervasive in our lives. They have grown and adapted. New tools, uses and applications are added all the time. The pace of change is phenomenal. Never before has communication had to adapt and change so fast. And never before have people needed to adapt their communications strategies so quickly.
The underlying philosophy of how organizations make their business decisions has been shaped by our journey through the industrial revolution. One thing the industrial revolution instilled in us is the need to automate, to do away with the individual craftsman, and to make things cheaper. To relate this to the evolution of the websites, the highly individual skill and craftsmanship of coding a website in HTML gave way to software that allowed any competent person to build a website in frames. Predetermined templates were created where you could just drop in a few photos and a bit of text and hey, presto, there was your website. As Henry Ford once said “You can have any color you want as long as it is black”, the web developer’s mantra is: “You can have anything you want as long as it fits into one of these templates.”
With the increasing adoption of social media, static templates are no longer adequate for organizations. As a result we are seeing a move towards templated social media solutions, choosing the template that most closely resembles what we think we need. But it is more complicated than that. We can no longer try to fit our organizations identity into a predetermined template. In order to keep up with the pace of change we need to alter our thinking. Today we need to make our message available on new media devices and portals. We need to integrate all our online assets. We want to weave our community into our brand so that there is a seamless integrated brand experience.
The changing approach we need when considering our online strategy is not limited to our online assets. We are seeing a general shift in the world’s consciousness. The establishment is being questioned. Alternative medicine’s holistic and spiritual approach is challenging the conventions of western medicines prescriptive antibiotic regime. There is a realization that blind allegiance to the production methods used in the industrial revolution is leading to climate change, wasted resources and dissatisfaction as value, creativity, purpose, collaboration and community give way to price, products, waste, exclusion and consumerism.
Within industry, through the research and thought leadership of organizations such as The Rocky Mountain Institute, a think tank and research institution, we see that by changing the way we approach the methods of production in industry, we can make real gains and savings through effective resource management and processes. We have had an excellent uptake of tcg’s Green Prepare™ programme, not because companies want to save the planet, but because there is a realization that in order for industry to survive, it needs to address the reality of our planet’s dwindling resources.
The ideology of production is wasteful and ill considered; yet these production methods are entrenched. It is difficult to throw this thinking away and accept alternative ways of producing, even if those methods lead to increased production and a stronger bottom line. Looking at organizations in a holistic manner and designing production so there is true integration of all aspects requires a shift in approach. Embracing alternative fuels, alternative build and engineering and new, considered production processes is not taking a step backwards; it ensures we can carry on producing way into the future.
This shift in consciousness is not about supplanting one way of doing things with another. It is about taking the best of all disciplines and changing the way in which we think about the relationship.
Similarly, the way we build out our technology is more important than ever. It is no longer a case of just having the best applications, widgets and tools; it is also about how that technology is structured and how relevant it is to your organization. Each organization has its unique business rules, structures and objectives. As an organization integrates and streamlines its operations, the same thinking needs to be carried forward into its online presence. More than ever, online tools and applications are becoming the way in which brands communicate with their audiences. As windows to our brand, websites are extending beyond the computer screen to a host of mobile devices, 10 foot interfaces and portals, some of which we still have to discover.
We are seeing a shift in how we think about our online property. The new social media platform has to embrace and enable this. It has to have tools that powerfully enable the user, yet it cannot be a rigid structure. It has to allow for unique business needs and it must integrate all aspects of the organization. Like any movement away from the established norm, not everyone gets it and not everyone at first will want to embrace it. Yet once the “ah-ha” moment comes, it all clicks and there is no going back.