In digital business, the role of digital communication within marketing activities changes fundamentally. Digital communication can be a game changer for product development and even for the entire organization.

Digital transformation means change for a business on different levels; it particularly impacts on the organizational structure and different company departments.

In this context we want to focus on one department in particular and its changing role within the company against the background of digital transformation. To be precise, we want to concentrate on the changing role of communications and the impact it has on a company’s business goals.

To sharpen our understanding of the term “communications” we are dealing with, “communications” in the context of this article may be understood as the promotion – “P” among the marketing mix.

Communications used to act as the megaphone of a company

The classic structure of an organization contains different departments, each working more or less by itself (e.g. communications, sales, production, purchase, controlling). Of course, companies often have more than simply a “communications” department. Terms like “PR”, “marketing”, “internal and external communications” are also widespread, sometimes as an addition, sometimes as a stand-alone department. What unites all of these is that against the background of digitalization they gain more responsibility and impact regarding the overall business goal.

Communications has always been crucial for companies. But in the past this was more concerned with transportation from the inside to the outside, to broadcast company-relevant information to the outside, to spread news and to shape the company’s image and branding. In other words, it was used as the megaphone of a company. But recently, with the development of digitalization, this role has changed and is about to change further.

Communications used to act as the megaphone of a company

In digital business, communications provides relevant insights for all departments

As mentioned above, digitalization affects the structure of an organization. Consequently communications adopts a different role in this changing environment and within these new structures. Communications no longer plays the rather “passive” role of the megaphone; it takes an active part.

This is mainly because of data: just like any other activity within an organization, communication activities create data that can be measured and controlled. On top of that, communications has the potential to evaluate and analyze data from the company’s environment. Based on the evaluation and combination of these different types of internal and external data, communications can have an effect on other company divisions. It can have an impact on sales by generating leads or winning over new partners or customers. While this may appear to be an anticipated implication, it can also have a further and rather surprising effect: given the necessary environment, communications can strongly influence product development and innovation by evaluating feedback or applying social listening.

Communications no longer works like the megaphone of a company. It can be used to approach the core of the organization: its customers and the problems these customers have. Thus, communications can have a greater influence on business level than ever before.

In digital business, communications provides relevant insights for all departments

Digital communication still needs time to reach its full potential

While some organizations already work with these advantages of digital communication, the full potential is yet to be exploited; there is much more to expect. The generation and evaluation and even the combination of big data provides many more options that we will experience in the near future.

One thing is for sure: The impact of digital communication can only be as strong as the company’s willingness to break down old structures and to combine relevant data. To get there it needs both a reliable data infrastructure, as well as a change in the mindset to allow communications to move from the edge to the center of marketing activities. Only by ensuring data literacy within an organization can digital communication become a real competitive advantage.

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