Communicating to Customers in a Complex Environment

Over the centuries, the foundation of work in the world has always been based on the exchange of one value for another. The Medieval times promoted selling of goods by peasants at a market place in exchange for a monetary value. As man has developed with their conscious outlook in improving the way of life, the notion of work as the world knows it, has evolved into an articulated approach of processes and systems.

In today’s context, the fourth industrial revolution (Schwab, 2016) highlights the emergence of a world that integrates technology into its everyday lives. A revolution is defined (Oxford Dictionary, 2016) as “a forcible overthrow of a government or social order, in favour of a new system: for example, the country has had a socialist revolution.”

A plethora of literature highlight the four various industrial revolutions which include the introduction of mechanisation, mass production, automation and the most recent being, robotic and cyber systems. These revolutions have increased the overall production output whilst decreasing production time.

The latest revolution has revealed an array of disruptive technologies defined as a new emerging technology that unexpectedly displaces an established one (Christensen, 1997). A report by McKinsey Global Institute (2013) highlights twelve technologies with a potential to disrupt industries and economies. Some of these technologies include advanced robotics, renewable electricity, the mobile internet and 3-Dimensional printing machines.

Schwab (2016) states “When compared with previous industrial revolutions, the Fourth is evolving at an exponential rather than a linear pace.” With an acceleration in such advancement, it is no doubt that business will alter in its need to gain advantage amongst its competitors.

In addition to this, Morris (2013) indicates six drivers of change, which promote an environment of innovation and improvement. These drivers are compelled through the current interconnectedness that technology fosters amongst human interactions. These include commoditization, digitization, social medialization, globalization, and turbulence and acceleration.

These factors in the Fourth Industrial Revolution contribute toward the complexities of communication. With an array of various channels and platforms available to reach the consumer, businesses need to be selective in constructing specific key messages that resonate with the overarching strategic intent of the organisation. Laher (2016) states “no matter where he is shopping, the consumer is the consumer. You have to break down those barriers between channels, empower the consumer in a uniform way and engage them in the same way on your site as you would face to face.”

In this context, Blank Canvas Intl (2016) highlights 10 steps to utilise in configuring a well-constructed communication plan. The importance of a communication plan provides focussed guidance on aligning the communication goals to that of the business strategy. It is about distilling the message in ensuring that there is one key message.

It is about the identification of various stakeholders, evaluating and mapping these stakeholders in terms of priority and then translating the key message to these stakeholders. It is then about matching the group, the message and the medium to ensure strategic communication alignment and setting up a content calendar and budget to manage these matchings. These steps then culminate in the implementation of such, together with the review, evaluation and optimisation.


Storm Thomas

January 2017



Blank Canvas Intl.


Christensen, C. M.,

2016. The Ultimate 10 Step Communication Plan Toolkit.



1997. The innovator’s dilemma: when new technologies cause great firms to fail. 1st ed. Boston, Massachusetts: Harvard Business School Press.


Morris, L. Innovation Management. 2013. The Driving Forces of Change | Innovation Management. [ONLINE] Available at:

[Accessed 10 January 2017].


Schwab, K.

World Economic Forum. 2016. The Fourth Industrial Revolution: what it means and how to respond | World Economic Forum. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 10 January 2017].