Saturday, January 10, 2015

Make mobile communication disappear

Maybe “disperse” is a better word than “disappear,” but futurist Mike Walsh thinks mobile communication already is disappearing. “When you look at new technologies like Google Glass, like Fitbit, things that are tracking our motion and steps, you are actually seeing the idea of mobile fragmenting, breaking up, and disappearing into our clothing, our eye wear, into our everyday lives,” he said.

Source: Ecourterre, Fittersift
“This is more than just about being cool or having new technology. The disappearance of the mobile phone is actually about a total integration between the digital world and our real world. And that’s going to change everything.” 

Everything? That includes how we communicate and how we behave. Communication is not about putting words, images or sound on any number of screens. Communication at work helps people understand and succeed. What if you receive an infographic with this hour’s purchase uptick after your new product introduction, exactly at the time you are delivering a presentation to your sales executive, sent to your aural or visual field simply because you are in a conversation on that topic? 

For one thing, you wouldn’t be heads-down in a digital screen to retrieve your most current numbers. And for another, you’d be out talking with people, having a conversation—the richest communication. How we communicate and how we behave will be different when smartphones, tablets, watches and glasses are truly contextual—aware of where you are and what you are doing—not a conveyance method driven by someone else’s delivery routine.

That’s been a problem employee communicators have faced from Day One. We can deliver messages, but their relevance depends on the receiver, not the sender trying to capture attention and drive engagement.

Employee communicators are trying out company-to-employee apps on smartphones, practicing limited context even as very early adopters are practicing integrated context in wearable computers like clothing or tattoos. Since more than half of adult Americans said in the recent Pew Research Internet Project it would be “very hard to give up” their cellphones, we as communicators have a path to bridge real life with smartphones into future, on-the-job, context technology.

Also from the Pew study, both the Internet and cell phones were more important to respondents than television, email, and even social media. In real life, people experience how cell phones connect them to others, and maybe intuitively they understand it’s the Internet that helps them find, create and share information, not to mention organize work, learn skills and do our jobs better.

So when you think of mobile communication, think of context, not merely delivery. Appreciating context, not just delivering information, is a good practice for any workplace communication.


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