Corporate Innovation: The Value Of Telling Your Technology Story

Corporate Innovation: The Value Of Telling Your Technology Story

17-Aug-2016 by Debby Penton

Technology and digital disruption are the key trends that are presenting new risks and threats for established corporates.

No industry is immune to these threats. Indeed, a study by the International Institute for Management Development showed that business leaders believe that four out of ten top-ranked companies in their industries worldwide won’t survive the next five years, largely because of accelerating changes in technology.

These trends have been most obvious in the retail space where online retail has cannibalised bricks-and-mortar businesses, but there are examples wherever you look. Startups, such as Airbnb, Nest, Netflix, Square, and of course Uber, have all used software to rethink inefficient processes and create new digital business models that revolutionise entire industries. For many corporates, the fear of being the latest victim of “uberisation” is very real and present.

However, overcoming the challenge of digital disruption is far from simple. While the majority of large enterprises recognise the need to be innovative, the reality of changing their culture and internal processes, while carving out time for people to be innovative and upskilling is often just too challenging. Established businesses are likened to oil tankers for good reason.

As a result, many corporates are now looking outside their organisations to engage with nimble, innovative startps, unencumbered with the constraints of the corporate world. Of course, Startupbootcamp is at the forefront of helping large corporates connect with the best startups in their space, but other organisations have launched their own ‘innovation labs’ to foster more startup-like approaches internally.

But engaging in a lab or an accelerator programme should only be part of the story. Ultimately, large corporates absolutely have to transform their businesses to differentiate the products and services they deliver to customers.

And technology is the key to creating this differentiation. But as established brands look to disrupt their own businesses and markets and gain recognition as ‘technology brands’ in their own right, why is the majority of the discussion about technology in the media still limited to technology companies? There is a huge appetite among the tech press to find out how traditional organisations are reinventing themselves in this digital age, as we saw through our own work with William Hill.

For many companies the challenge is simply that they are not used to talking about innovation and technology, or they don’t even realise they have an interesting story to tell. For these brands their marketing focus in the past has been elsewhere, and the benefits of promoting exactly what the brand is doing ‘behind the scenes’ to future-proof the business and transform customer experiences have not been obvious.

Now though, the need to tell this story is urgent. Not only does this technology and innovation serve to improve customer loyalty, and ultimately sales, but it is also an important factor for a City audience too. Why wouldn’t you want to back a company that is investing in technology and differentiating its offering?

Don’t forget too that this also means corporates need to attract the best, highly sought-after digital talent to develop the new business models and customer experiences that will set them apart from their competitors. Building an employer brand that appeals to this talent is something that many businesses have never needed to do before. How do you communicate your corporate proposition to a distinctly non-corporate audience? What are you offering this talent? How does your business present a more compelling challenge than the most exciting startups or your competitors?

However, when it comes to establishing a business as a leader in innovation and one that aims to stay at the forefront of an industry by embracing technology, many companies just don’t have the contacts, understanding or time to tell these stories.

Wildfire has experience of working closely with a cross section of brand stakeholders to craft narratives and stories that build technology credentials across multiple channels and audiences, including consumers, employees, partners and investors. We’d love to talk to you about how we can tell your innovation story.

Debby Penton is a Managing Director at Wildfire PR - a public relations company for technology companies based in the UK.