Today, comms agency theblueballroom hosted their first Future Story event at RADA in London. Over 40 professionals linked to the comms world came together to hear about what the future holds for us and our businesses. The keynote of the day was Olivia Solon from Wired magazine who talked about four challenges/issues:

  • Personalisation and customisation

Hyper personalisation is not only applicable to the digital space. More and more companies are looking at ways to personalise your experience and your product. Examples from Heinz about creating your own soup label and fashion label Trikoton making clothing linked to voice patterns. The one thing to make sure is that the personalisation is not creepy and doesn’t go too far.

  • Transparency

Companies should have nothing to find. With the increasing desire to bring CSR to the table we need to make sure that our house is in order before we talk about it publicly. CSR allows you to align purpose and profit and be honest about what you’re fixing and managing. Some great examples about how brands engage in the online space being honest and transparent (O2 and Patagonia were some examples)

  • Privacy

Surveillance and privacy go hand in hand. Some interesting insight into some of those big games companies and how they wanted to use their tech that allows you to be in the game, for bringing you into the adverts. Creepy.

  • Automation

Talk of bots, software that can take data heavy information and turn it into copy, and how we can no longer tell the difference between reality and automation. Make sure you’re adding value beyond what a computer can do but also take note of how some of this stuff can really help our jobs.

There were three sessions in the afternoon and I went along to Euan Semple’s session on relationships in a connected world. Euan chose to run his whole 90 minute session through each person introducing themselves and talking about how they use social tools in business and in their personal lives. What we were part of, was an organic discussion about social that was aided by a facilitator who could add more insight than anyone I know….

  • We are in danger of turning social media into an initiative – we are professionalising it which we shouldn’t be doing
  • There were a lot of people in the room who ‘lurk’ on Twitter – Lurking is a long and honorable tradition!
  • Organisations are lunging at social media. It is like watching your dad dancing; you’re proud of him for trying but wish he would stop
  • Social media is one person at a time and it is for their reasons, not yours
  • As comms professionals we are still very focused on our leaders blogging – does it really matter? Why are we clinging onto the guy at the top that knows everything. He doesn’t exist and hasn’t for a long time
  • We lack patience for these tools to deliver
  • Transparency of the organisation has to link to transparency of the individual
  • BYOD: If your organisation wants to get on my phone as an internal comms tool it needs to behave itself
  • Measuring social media? How do you measure good conversations with interesting people?
  • The internet is like talking to yourself but better. It is like walking side by side with someone rather than across a boardroom table
  • Be visible, accountable and trustworthy
  • We have stopped being curious. The web is about learning and we need to remember that there is so much out there for us to find out
  • Social media works through a basic desire to be part of something. Through the need to be liked
  • Adoption is not about age or gender. It is about outlook.
  • The internet is just a thing. If you don’t like what you do with it that is more of a reflection on you as a person than the internet

While I didn’t take away any practical stuff for the day job, the event gave me time to think and reflect on some of those challenges we face every day. It gave me the chance to meet some people I have only ever met on Twitter and for once, I feel like I attended an event that really looked into the future!

#thefuturestory