Every Company Is A Digital Media Company

Your Organisation, My Organisation, Our Organisation – They are All Digital Media Companies
Today every organisation we know is essentially a tech company – whether it builds gadgets, develops apps, offers legal services or cooks food. Similarly, with powerful digital tools and platforms available to virtually everyone, every business is a media company – it has never been easier and more important for corporations as well as start-ups to communicate with customers and the public. Yet, few are doing so. What is stopping these organisations from becoming great storytellers?

Everyone Has an Interesting Story
Many firms, especially the ones working in traditional and business-to-business trades, aren’t confident that people will find what they do exciting. However, I have yet to find an industry that cannot offer something compelling to learn.

For instance, in the last 30 minutes, I’ve been browsing an Instagram profile of a large shipping company. A shipping company, you ask? Indeed, I’m not someone who spends time researching this kind of content –  as long as my online shopping packages arrive safely. But the beautiful pictures of gigantic liners passing along breathtaking skylines and exotic landscapes drew me in. Before I realised, I was watching videos about complex global supply chains, reading interviews with data scientists who optimise routes, learning about innovative carbon-neutral freighters and discovering how blockchain is used to manage containers. The logistics industry is so exciting that I would love to work in it!

Everyone Can Make an Impression
And that is not all. I’ve been able to lead a healthier life – thanks to information from life sciences labs, discover how new compounds and materials shape the city around me and get solid entrepreneurship advice from law consultancies. It is possible that the curiosity-invoking contents from these companies have taught me just as much as my school and university did – and, at the same time, planted their brands in the mind of a potential client – me.

Everyone Will Do Well to Get Started
It is true that digital media can be confusing with new information constantly calling for our attention, and websites, apps and platforms appearing out of nowhere every day. Yet, the fundamentals of marketing haven’t changed as much as many may think and are still based on a few simple principles.

  • Produce content about the industry you know a lot about – in the form of videos, images and the written word.
  • Deliver it across spaces where people spend a lot of time – mobile phones are a good place to start.
  • Adapt the content to the context.
  • Share knowledge and good advice ahead of selling – when customers trust you, they will come.

These rules stay at the core of marketing communications even as technology changes through the years – they were true before the invention of radio and will continue to be true when we spend vacations in virtual reality.

First published in the IT Society Magazine by the Singapore Computer Society

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How science fiction becomes an everyday fact

As mobile supercomputers, intelligent cities, global networks and other wonders of our age become part of the daily routine and office furniture, it is easy to forget how things were once upon a time and the almost magical nature of this everyday tech that we have come to take for granted.

Well, this might very well be for the better – since it is only when these “gadgets” become mundane that we’ll aim for even more incredible breakthroughs. For someone who has lived through these exciting times, every time I pause and look around, I cannot help but marvel at how my yesteryear fantasies have become everyday realities today.

The Impossible is Already Here
As a kid, I liked to read science fiction. I could spend hours sitting under a tree, immersed in the distant worlds of the far future where people carried in their hands tiny but powerful supercomputers that could instantly deliver any information. They would go about their business on fast trains that navigated by themselves without drivers, and in cities with buildings as high as the sky. They could talk to anyone in the world through their video screens and get live news from any country and in any language. I thought: “If I could just go to such a place – I’d be the happiest kid in the world.”

When I read science fiction as a kid, I imagined buildings of the future to look like this.

Now I have grown up. I was scrolling through the live newsfeed from Asia, USA, and Europe with my smartphone in hand when I sipped my cup of coffee this morning. I hopped on the fully automated Downtown MRT Line train to ride to the Singapore downtown where the sight of towering skyscrapers never ceases to take my breath away. Because my phone is always connected to the Internet, along the way, I researched on the latest marketing trends for my client meeting. After work, I had two video chats – one with my mom in Europe, and another with a good friend in South America – as if we were in the same space and time zone.

The Power is in Your Hands
As it stands, the cheapest modern smartphone today is more powerful than the famous Deep Blue, the gigantic supercomputer that won a chess game against the world champion for the first time – big story during my childhood. It is as capable of controlling a spacecraft as the entire room of transistors that sent Apollo 11 to the moon. But if you’d rather stay in your couch, the phone can generate virtual reality experiences that would make the Neuromancer graphics pale in comparison.

An OEM supercomputer, $50 per piece

That is barely the full story of what technology can do too. These days, we can have video calls virtually anytime, anywhere and on any screen. The 4G wireless connection enables video streaming with remarkable quality on our sleek tablets as compared to clunky tethered devices protagonists of futuristic movies from the 90s used. Thanks to technology, people today can even build careers and manage organisations using nothing more than a few online collaboration tools. It is foreseeable that as fast connectivity continues to spread, meeting, working and playing with people even as we move around the globe will become even more seamless.

Tech is in Play Everyday, Everywhere
It may not be immediately apparent, but advanced cities such as Singapore have already implemented fully automated rail systems capable of controlling and coordinating vast train fleets over many kilometers. Not only does the system continually optimise schedule times, braking points, accelerating speeds and other parameters, the trains are also connected to an even wider transport network of thousands of vehicles through sensors that add real-time data and make the city smarter with every passing minute.

Everyone is a Change Agent
Truth is, the modern Metropolis is a living and breathing information system, buzzing with intelligence, always connected, always learning and improving. And each of us contributes to enriching the data – simply by going about our everyday life. I am humbled by the opportunity to build a reality that people of the past couldn’t even dream of.

These days, I no longer need to read science fiction to fuel my imagination – I just grab the latest issue of a science magazine, such as the one you are holding now. And I become again that little kid, staring in awe at the world right in front of my eyes.

First appeared in The IT Society magazine and Infopier: https://www.infopier.sg/blog/-/blogs/how-everyday-tech-has-changed-without-you-realising