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Communication Evolution over the Last 20 Years

by Olufisayo
Communication Evolution

Society has come a long way since the turn of the millennium. Though it can be difficult to keep up, never underestimate the importance of embracing technological progress.

It’s difficult to remember a time when the internet did not play a role in the daily life of virtually every person in the developed world. While internet usage gained popularity in the ’90s, the new millennium saw the dawn of a drastic shift in means of communication, fostered by increasing use of the internet as well as the increasingly portable devices we use to access it.

From playing snake on a bulky Nokia phone to playing TikTok videos on an iPhone 10; from emailing coworkers from a dial-up connection to instant messaging them on an employee intranet app- both personal and professional evolved rapidly since the dawn of the new millennium.

The ubiquity of digital tools and their essential function in the modern workplace has exploded in the last 20 years. Tools such as laptops and cell phones evolved from a luxury reserved for the well-off into an essential tool owned by virtually everyone.

Even in the year 2011, as cell phones increased in popularity, Pew Research Center estimates that only 35% of Americans owned cell phones. One-third of the population is no small number, but it pales in comparison to today’s estimated 96% of Americans who own a cell phone.

Just as essential as the hardware itself is the communication software runs on it. Since the first email was sent in 1978, email has arguably become the most widely used form of communication in the business world. Presently, over 300 billion emails are sent worldwide per day; that’s 3.5 million emails per second.

And then the communication juggernaut that has been snowballing across the internet since it’s advent at the turn of the millennium: social media. Over 3.8 billion people worldwide use social media. That’s 3.8 billion potential opportunities to create new customers for your business, promote your brand, initiate a collaboration; the possibilities are endless.

With technology advancing so rapidly and media constantly changing, it’s critically important that you stay ahead of the curve and stay on-trend. Take Blockbuster for example. The video rental giant dominated its market for nearly 20 years. Their investors sat comfortably in the top spot when the 2000’s hit, but that comfort would not last long.

Netflix and other innovative entertainment companies began introducing new ways to bring new media to consumers. Streaming services entered the scene and blew up overnight. By the time Blockbuster tried to board the new media bandwagon, it was too late. The company filed for bankruptcy in 2011 and was absorbed into the DISH streaming service.

Don’t fall into the same trap Blockbuster did; embrace change. Take social media for example. You aren’t out there posting to a company MySpace site. Sure, you post on your Facebook page and Tweet for your business, but what about other outlets? Does your brand engage users on Pinterest, Tiktok, Tumblr, Reddit? Today there are hundreds of up-and-coming social media sites, and chances are you can use at least one of them to tap an unreached audience that is relevant to your market.

Communication within the workplace continues to evolve as well. Useful as it may be, the trouble with email communication is that a constantly piling up inbox tends to bury emails, and important information can easily be lost.

More and more employers are turning to more streamlined means of communication, setting up communication networks and employee intranets that allow for instant messaging and push notifications to keep their staff informed to-the-minute.

Recent studies suggest that the up-and-coming generation tends to shy away from traditional email inboxes in favor of the instant gratification brought on by messaging and collaboration apps, and experts predict these apps have the potential to dethrone email as king of workplace comms.

There will always be outliers who fear change and try to actively keep it from happening. Naysayers have criticized every new invention, idea, and development for as long as people have been advancing. But everyone who rolled their eyes at cell phone users in the year 2000 is probably scrolling through news feeds on their smartphone as you read this.

Change isn’t always going to be easy or comfortable, but you will never succeed if you aren’t willing to embrace it. Rather than roll your eyes and vent about how you don’t understand TikTok or whatever new app will take off next, view them as an opportunity to utilize a new tool and grow your brand.

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