As technology gets increasingly sophisticated, good communicators will have a key role to play to ensure equality says Thwaites Communications founder & CEO Emma Thwaites.
Set up in 2012, the corporate communications agency offers strategic comms advice to smaller businesses, primarily in the tech and education sectors.
While it might appear that the industry focus is on technical skills now more than ever, communication also has a vital role to play in the future of the tech industry.
“Good, clear communications will become even more important as technology increases in sophistication and reach,” Thwaites told BusinessCloud.
“To avoid creating a situation where we have inequality of understanding, and arguably, inequality in acquiring the benefits of technology, we need to work really hard to communicate an understanding of its value and also encourage debate around ethics.
“It’s incumbent on all of us working as communications professionals in the tech space to take this responsibility very seriously and to encourage our clients to do the same.”
Thwaites has seen this focus on ethics and transparency become an increasingly important topic for all her clients, particularly around how to maintain agency over the tech they’re developing.
“They want to make sure we invent and innovate thoughtfully and think about what sort of infrastructure we want to create through tech development and what the rules are,” she said.
“They want to know what the standards, rules and regulations are. We often hear the web described as the Wild West and unfortunately in the Wild West it’s very easy to get away with stuff and for the power to end up in the hands of a small group of actors.”
Ethics, agency and a beady eye on development will be an ever-present theme over the next five years, predicts Thwaites, which is a positive thing overall.
“It’s good that people are starting to talk about it,” she said. “I read a stat the other day saying within the last five years the percentage of people concerned with data privacy has gone from five per cent to 95 per cent.
“We’re all much more aware of how our data used and misused so a lot of the targeting and data analysis will have to be done more openly.
“People are more concerned about privacy and more likely to start withdrawing the rights for third party services to use their data to target them for advertising.
“The nature of the relationship between brands and their customers is going to change. I can see the balance of power shifting in favour of the consumer, and the AIs, machine learning and the rest, will drive it all.”