To celebrate the launch of the Thrive Tech Academy, a training program designed to help MarComms professionals advance their ability to communicate in today’s tech-driven world and futureproof their careers, we turn the spotlight on MarComms & Tech trailblazers who have seen the business landscape transformed by technology these past few years.
Today, we hear from Brad Howarth, a renowned tech journalist, author, researcher, speaker and MarComms expert who’s also on the Tech Academy Advisory Board and has helped create the content for our training.
Our first set of training sessions will start later in 2022, you can register here.
Q: How long have you been working in the tech industry?
I started working as a journalist for technology publications way back in 1995.
Q: How have you seen tech transform the world, and your profession over the years?
Back in the 90’s, the Internet was only just starting to get mainstream attention outside of academic and research circles, we were in a transitional phase from mainframes and minicomputers to client/server systems. Personal computers were becoming popular and Windows 95 ‘s launch was the biggest news event of the year.
Reporting on technology was still primarily relegated to specialty magazines or buried within the business sections of newspapers, although the World Wide Web, Y2K and other changes would soon see tech reporting start to go mainstream.
Q: How has the way tech and non-tech companies communicate changed?
My first business card had a fax number rather than an email address, so there is that. But the biggest change of course is that everything became electronic - primarily through email.
The telephone, which was one of the main ways of communicating a few decades ago, has been relegated to a rarely used comms tool now, at least for voice calls. And of course in the past two years video calling has become much more common.
In terms of how technology stories are communicated, there is much greater depth in the ideas that get discussed, and a realisation amongst all organisations regarding the role that technology plays in driving business leadership.
Q: You work with a lot of tech and non-tech companies, some of them have very tech savvy MarComms professionals and others don’t. How do you see that impact their communication and overall business success?
Technology is fundamental to business performance, especially when it comes to providing exceptional experiences for customers.
You only need to look at the impact of technology-based organisations (Amazon, Uber, Spotify etc) on the industries they play in, and how the traditional competitors that have embraced technology in response are the ones who have fared best against this new competition.
Smart, forward-thinking organisations understand this and actively promote their utilisation of technology as part of their brand positioning and communications around their value proposition, they also strive to use it as the basis for market differentiation and competitive advantage.
Q: How do you think initiatives such as the Thrive Tech Academy can help MarComms professionals but also the wider Australian economy?
Technology is a huge topic, and it changes quickly. Having an understanding of the fundamentals that drive the industry can be critical in helping navigate the changes that are taking place, and how to communicate these to a broader audience.
This is especially important for any organisation which is striving to position itself as a leader in technology adoption, or for any that is seeking to respond to technology-based competition. Having an understanding of technology trends is also critical for communicating around societal concerns such as privacy and e-safety.
Technology today touches almost every aspect of how an organisation functions, from internal processes such as HR and finance through to how it presents itself to the outside world. We see study after study speaking to the need to raise Australia’s digital skills levels, that includes the ability to communicate about technology initiatives.
Understanding this is critical to anyone who wants to progress in business, regardless of their job description. The technology sector is also a large and growing employer of professionals, presenting fantastic career opportunities for anyone who has an understanding of the sector.
Q: Is there a brand you particularly admire/look up to when it comes to their communication strategy, or is great at showcasing the power of tech on the world?
There are, but as a journalist, I would never want to let them know!