Heidi Sinclair
Dec 15, 2011

Five things you need to know about technology marketing in the innovation age

Heidi Sinclair, president of global technology, Weber Shandwick (and former chief communications officer for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation), shares her insights about technology marketing in the innovation age.

Heidi Sinclair, president of global technology, Weber Shandwick
Heidi Sinclair, president of global technology, Weber Shandwick

1. Greatest story of our time: technology has changed the world

We have wildly exceeded Bill Gates’ vision of a PC in every home and on every desk: many of us have the equivalent of a PC in every pocket and our households are teeming with laptops, tablets, smart phones, refrigerators and media centers. 

Mobile phones have brought the power of computing to the Delhi seamstress and the Ghana farmer. Technology is deeply embedded in the fabric of industry, government and society at all levels and in all parts of this planet. So, look around at the impact that technology is having in the world and capture these stories.

2. Celebrate the change technology has made

Those of us in the technology world are often so caught up in the new new thing that we forget to celebrate achievements.  We need to not only recognise the obvious impact of technology over the past 30 years, but also the downstream impact.  For example, email saves the forests, coal beds and oil deposits depleted to send the same information through “snail mail". 

And where there is technology, in the form of vaccines and easy access to information, life expectancy has the possibility to double.  So, let’s hit the pause button and publicly celebrate the impact our technologists have made these past few decades.

3. Recognise and assume responsibility for innovation’s impact and invent the fixes

Kindergarten students don’t have fine-tuned digital motor skills but their thumbs are very adept. Many teens default to playing with their phones and only communicating via text messages now versus interacting with people in-person. 

MIT Professor Sherry Turkle studied the effect of technology on youth and relationships over the past 10 years, and documented how technology supports, but also inhibits relationships.  She advocates new societal norms and etiquette for technology use.  The technology industry needs to own, solve and talk about these and other important societal issues.

4. Change the conversation

With the global community as our audience, it is time for us to elevate our conversation from speeds and feeds and competitive features to one of how technologies are applied to daily life.  As communicators, this is our job.  We need to guide our colleagues and clients away from the arcane technical language that is our industry’s comfort zone and elevate the conversation to one of benefits, impact and application.  Steve Jobs made technology accessible and beautiful.  We can do the same to the language of technology.

5. Innovation is everywhere, talk about it

We are no longer in the information age.  It is no longer about accessing and sharing information globally. 

We are now in what I call the innovation age, where innovation is the engine driving everything.  We must communicate the innovation that underlies every aspect of our work and play for this innovation is what will define and sustain the great brands and institutions in the future.  Having an innovation story will soon be the ticket to global success. 

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