Professional development and training blog of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA)
July 24, 2012

It’s Time to Examine the Multi-Channel, Multi-Device Approach for Clients in a Hyperconnected World

We live in a hyperconnected world that moves forward into new realms every minute — like augmented virtual reality for business uses being explored on Georgia Institute of Technology’s campus in Atlanta, and that means even more consumption of news and data of all kinds, synthesized and scrubbed for your viewing. Hyperconnected is often described as a term for “people who feel they need to communicate virtually — via email, mobile phone or text — 24 hours a day.” Several recent research findings have shown that some hyperconnected individuals may even wake up during the night to check whether or not they have been contacted.  Companies like Ericsson have predicted that connected devices could outnumber connected people by a ratio of six to one by 2020, and the scramble to make sense of that shows up in sociology discussions.

The multi-channel, multi-device approach to communications is accelerating for all of us, and data actually supports predictions that by 2020, the next young adult generation will be wired differently. Jack Loechner’s March 2012 Research Brief from the Center for Media Research looked at “The Impact of Hyperconnectivity,” and discovered that more than 55 percent of those surveyed believe that this statement will be true:

“In 2020, the brains of multitasking teens and young adults are wired differently from those over age 35, and overall, it yields helpful results. They do not suffer notable cognitive shortcomings as they multitask and cycle quickly through personal and work-related tasks. Rather, they are learning more and they are more adept at finding answers to deep questions, in part because they can search effectively and access collective intelligence via the Internet.”

But other experts, such as David Ellis, director of communications studies at York University, disagree. He indicated that he sees the hyperconnectivity experience making them less productive, and adds that most of them do not understand the digital tools, according to the report.

As public relations practitioners, we really do not have time to debate what is upon us.  Statistics in a number of categories prove out this intensity of hyperconnections, from no “real” vacations away from phones and tablet devices, to the mushrooming of new social networks with new learning curves that start with expanding personal networks, such as Pinterest and Google’s Goggles, but will grow into even more important business toolsets as time goes on.

For example, as reported on July 20, about 1 in 4 consumers say that they are spending less time on other social media sites in favor of Pinterest, according to Compete’s Online Shopper Intelligence Survey.  And, the impact is a 3 percent drop in time spent on Facebook over the last month.

Participation in electronic clicks in everyday living to “make something happen” is really still in its infancy. Hyperconnections will continue to spill into our everyday activities, as is evidenced by mobile payments and the discussion of the mobile wallet. Alltransactions will become interactions with customer relationship management, and more unattended retail is coming, according to the National Automatic Merchandising Association (NAMA) Endowed Professor Michael L. Kasavana of the School of Hospitality Business, Michigan State University.

The NAMA says U.S. consumers are spending billions in cash every year at automated machines — up to $42 billion, in fact and growth is anticipated at rate of 12 to 15 percent next year alone. “Industry practitioners estimate a growth rate in the range of 12–15 percent, and include the introduction of non-traditional products and services in the mix (electronics, personal grooming items, pharmaceuticals and a host of other products). Some industry technology suppliers project growth of 20 percent or more given the implementation of innovative user interface techniques (digital media, nutritional display, product bundling), as well as the emergence of intelligent consumer analytics (sales by gender, age, time of day, product purchased),” said Kasavana in a recent interview with this blogger.

What else can a multi-channel, multi-device world deliver, and what will we contend with in the future? Join me at the PRSA Technology Sections HyperConnections Summit: Smashing Out of the Box in PR, Sept. 27-28, in Atlanta to hear how we, as public relations practitioners, have options in our hyperconnected world, and we can impact our profession by our choices. We will hear from experts in video, infographics, social media campaigns and retail digital media, as well as see how brands, such as Ebay, Rubbermaid and Sprint, react to our society’s need for even more hyperconnectivity. According to Burst Media, 2012 social media spending is estimated at $4.8 billion (BIA/Kelsey), and brands are learning from each other as to how to capitalize. Register today to be part of the discussion.

Dawn Marie Yankeelov is founder of Aspectx, which she founded in 1989, and works with technology and health care companies looking to leverage their growth in multi-channel approaches across the globe. Connect with her on Twitter. She is chair of the Technology Section and will give the summit’s opening remarks. Yankeelov also will present at the 2012 International Conference in San Francisco on “Mobile Engagement: A Winning Strategy” for the Technology Section. Her session is on Tuesday, Oct. 16, 8–9:15 a.m.

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