Printer Friendly

Four IABC leaders look 20 years ahead.

Worldwide trends in place today-a global economy, instant access to information, satellite technology, cultural diversity and loosening or disappearance of political borders-will continue to accelerate and intensify, according to experts. The changes will be rapid, breathtaking, shocking and thrilling.

Successful organizations in the next 20 years will turn global challenges into new opportunities, often seeking alliances with foreign competitors. Key to this success will be the ability to manage the volumes of information generated by satellite-linked electronic networks around the globe.

The need for effective management of communication with both internal and external audiences worldwide will be greater than ever. Today the wise communication manager spends time meeting the information requirements of customers, distributors, shareholders, employees and influencers. Tomorrow this effort will be multiplied by the number of countries where a company does business. And each message will have to be adapted to the individualized needs of each audience in each country.

The communication professional will develop strong skills in managing corporate affairs multinationally-to see the global implications in all actions undertaken by the organization. As Asian Advertising and Marketing magazine notes, "Losing the communication initiative under the spotlight of the world's press... can do irreparable damage to a company's credibility."

Maintaining employee loyalty to a multinational organization through staff communication may well be the ultimate test. The communicator must have a commitment from top management to share information with candor and honesty to all audiences. But this may pose a dilemma in some countries where open, candid communication is not only not desired but goes against cultural mores.

Perhaps the biggest challenge for the communicator in the next two decades will be coming to grips with language. To be successful, according to John Naisbitt's Megatrends, he or she will have to be trilingual: fluent in English, Spanish and computer. Or will it be English, Japanese and computer?

Salvation will arrive via technology. Software today offers computerized correction of misspelled words and substitutes synonyms for weak words. Can the technology be far behind where a message written in one language can be automatically translated and printed out in another? It may be more important to know how to access such a program than to learn a foreign vocabulary. The universal global language may well be computer.

And what of IABC in the next 20 years? First, it no longer will be necessary to talk about the "I" in our name. Members will just naturally think internationally as a fact of life-and in order to survive and prosper in business.

Here's one possible scenario: The association will continue to add members and chapters outside of North America and by 2010 half of our membership will be non-North American. IABC/UK will change to IABC/London (there will be other UK chapters) and will vie with New York and Toronto for the honor of most members. New chapters will appear in Japan, China, Singapore, Brazil, Finland, Sweden, Germany and Portugal-to name but a few.

International conferences will be held in Mexico City, Hong Kong, London (again) and Melbourne-but more members will watch the conference via satellite than will attend in person. Members will access a computerized Communication Bank from around the world, operating 24 hours a day.

Main world headquarters still will be in San Francisco but services will be available through subsidiary offices in Asia/Pacific, Latin America and Europe. Regional issues of Communication World will be printed in these offices. Pre-assembled pages will be transmitted electronically.

IABC will continue to be the preeminent international communication association. As a worldwide federation of its chapters, IABC will be recognized as the authority speaking for the profession.

The best communicators in our business still will be those who think strategically, are part of the management decision-making team... and know how to use communication to get results. And when they need help, they'll be only a key stroke away from a colleague halfway around the world.




By Brad Whitworth, ABC

"Carbon paper? Why didn't you just make a photocopy?"

I can't believe that some of our college interns and new hires at Hewlett-Packard have never used carbon paper or dirtied their fingers changing a typewriter ribbon.

The pace of technological change is sweeping us faster and faster toward a different way of doing business. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that there'll be electronic marvels galore in the next 20 years that will enhance our communication efforts and make your IABC membership even more valuable. You'll use new tools that will make personal computers, faxes and cellular phones look as old-fashioned as mimeographs, dial telephones and computer key punch cards.

The driving force behind these changes will be the ever-increasing power of the microprocessor-the computer chip. Engineers and scientists here in California's Silicon Valley have been able to increase the amount of computing power per dollar by about 30 percent year after year for the last 20 years. That's what makes today's desktop computers affordable and gives them the power of yesterday's expensive mainframes. These increasingly powerful chips that have brought you microwave ovens, VCRS, cellular phones and Nintendo games will continue to put more processing power into your hands in the future.

What does this changing technology mean for IABC members 20 years from now?

Imagine a portable machine with the combined power of a PC, printer, fax, video phone and a miniature satellite dish that lets you work in real time with other members around the world. Language barriers will erode as computer chips produce simultaneous translation to and from scores of languages.

You could attend a local IABC meeting where you watch a Norwegian member's communication program unfolding before your eyes... with computer data from the company's employees (or media contacts or customers or security analysts), updating graphs and charts in real time. No more "overnight Nielsens" or after-the-fact surveys. Members and their organizations will be able to measure their results as they happen, even tweaking programs as the data flow back in.

As a member of a global network of professional communicators, you will be able to tap the world's best minds, databases and communication programs quickly and easily. You'll use expert systems to sort through tons of files around the world to come up with the best solution that's been tailored already by your artificial intelligence system specifically for your organization. With future telecommunications and holography merged, you'll be able to sit next to IABC members from six countries in a global "holo-conference" without leaving your own workstation.

But beyond the technological wonders that bring us closer, the IABC constant 20 years from now will be the people-the best and the brightest the world has to offer. And those IABC members will have never lost sight of the fact that they're using their technology and their IABC ties to develop programs that communicate vital information to people, not machines.


By Ron Martin

Barriers between people have been crumbling. Physical barriers like the Berlin Wall have fallen, while geographical barriers are disappearing as the earth shrinks through ever-new communication technology.

The most difficult barriers between people, however, are psychological ones-attitudes too often rooted in prejudice. Will those barriers tumble like the Berlin Wall within the next 20 years?

As an optimist, I believe we can expect more and more people to appreciate and value the differences among us. At the least, we can look forward to the same rate of progress during IABC's next two decades as we've experienced in our first two.

One thing I can safely predict is that the United States and Canada, the two countries I know best, will continue to become more of a human mosaic. As the Wall Street Journal pointed out in a recent article: "From now till the end of the century, 88 percent of [US] work force growth will come from women, blacks and people of Hispanic or Asian origin, including immigrants." Los Angeles already is the second largest Hispanic city after Mexico City.

If for no other than economic reasons, the work place in our organizations will become more tolerant and accepting of differences-differences that historically have raised barriers in employment and handicapped the development of essential teamwork.

Our future seems to promise an amalgam of multiple minorities operating cooperatively within society, each with its own culture, its own voice for representation and its own opportunity to negotiate freely for rewards.

I think we can count on the continued growth of McLuhan's global village as technology increasingly links our collective future. In addition, we can count on the spread of free-market capitalism and increasingly interdependent economies to keep countries willing to cooperate. But technology and a global marketplace can take us only so far. When different groups converge, the unenlightened and curious can be unexpectedly rude. We must all cultivate the desire to accept and the capacity to learn about people and cultures different from our own.

What I hope we see in the next decade or two is an emergence of attitudes that will allow us to understand and embrace people different from ourselves. As a global society, it is critical that we place higher value on cultural diversity.

As communicators, our continuing challenge is to be sensitive to our audiences and to know how to reach our increasingly non-homogeneous constituencies. Multilingualism must become an integral part of the professional development agenda for many. And to be a successful communicator has always required a great capacity for empathy.

In addition, I think we as communicators have a responsibility within our organizations to promote respect for every person's values and to push to redefine or widen definitions of diversity. Diversity isn't just about gender, race, religion and national origin. It's also about age, disability and affectional preference. We must bring an all-inclusive viewpoint to our communications.

Through IABC and my involvement with our Multicultural Communicators Committee, I've been personally enriched getting to know communication professionals from around the world and with cultural heritages different from my own. That is one of the greatest benefits from membership in our association.


By Elizabeth Allan, ABC, CAE

You're sitting at your keyboard at home. You've just signed off from your company's weekly computer conference hooking up your global communication staff. The kids are in their learning centers using their video training programs. You dial up the IABC Leadership Hotline and plug into your chapter's strategic planning session complete with an interactive video display of all your board members and committee chairpersons.

Could that be the IABC chapter president of the 21st Century?

Certainly, technology will affect not only communicators' paying jobs but also the way they contribute to IABC as volunteers. As the technology becomes more affordable, it may become easier for members to volunteer.

IABC has a valued tradition of extraordinary volunteer contribution and commitment. Twenty years ago, IABC had an executive board with 15 members, 17 committees, six districts, and 65 chapters. Now our board is 25 members strong and, in 1990, we have 26 committees, five Councils, nine districts, three regions, 124 chapters, and a separate IABC Research Foundation.

A conservative estimate puts the number of volunteer positions at the chapter, district/regional, and international levels over the past 20 years well over 30,000. If each volunteer contributed just an hour of time a week over those 20 years (and we know some gave many, many hours) the total people-hours would be more than a million and a half ! When we say IABC benefits from exceptional volunteer commitment, we mean it ! Volunteers will continue to be IABC's strength in the 2 1 st Century, but here are some trends the experts are predicting...

* "A decrease in the availability of qualified volunteers will continue to affect associations and, as a result, staff will increasingly be called upon to fulfill traditional volunteer roles," says Bill Taylor, president of the American Society of Association Executives, Washington, DC. (From ASAE's "Association Factbook.")

* "Professional staff is assuming more of the association's workload due to the difficulty in enlisting volunteers for sustained activity," says David Bywaters, chairman and CEO of Lawrence-Leiter (an association management consulting firm based in Kansas City, Mo.). "Dual career families, increased job demands, mergers and acquisitions, and leisure activity combine to create a time-pressed volunteer. Task forces with a short-term orientation are replacing standing committees. Continuity, therefore, is increasingly provided by professional staff," he adds. (From "The Lawrence-Leiter Report," Volume 4, Number 4, October 1989.)

* "Changing demographics, combined with consumer activism and concern for the environment are producing fertile ground for the growth of voluntarism," according to The "Canadian Credit Union Environmental Scan," developed in 1989 by the Canadian Co-operative Credit Society. This points to a different future for volunteers: ... Baby boomers,' many of whom were social activists in the 1960s, will once again turn to voluntarism in the 1990s to try to bring about the changes they want. And the environmental movement is grooming a host of young volunteers,"

Baby boomers, who currently form the bulk of IABC's membership, certainly will leave their imprint on the association. Perhaps, as they hit the predicted "mid-career compaction," many may find a new outlet for their career ambitions through volunteering. But, you can bet there will be plenty of competition from nonprofit associations wanting their precious volunteer time.

No matter which view of the future you take, volunteers will continue to expect solid value in return for their time and talent. The challenge for IABC and other associations will be to increase that value while making the most of the time available. And IABC must meet the challenge of involving multicultural communicators as volunteers and leaders, as workplace demographics change and as IABC expands internationally.

IABC volunteers for the past 20 years typically have called volunteering with IABC the best professional development experience they've ever had. They were able to learn new skills in leading and managing in a relatively risk-free environment. As the professionalism of our members has grown, so has the sophistication of our volunteers. Our volunteers are much more skilled now in planning, leadership, fiscal management, delegation... the list goes on. That means their expectations from the experience have increased, too. Professional development, making contacts, the satisfaction of giving back to the profession... all will continue to be motivators for the 21st Century volunteer.

And so will the "fun factor." IABC volunteers have a cherished tradition of warmth and humour. They are creative, dynamic, energetic professionals who are committed to everyone in the business being successful. That's not likely to change with the calendar.
COPYRIGHT 1990 International Association of Business Communicators
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1990, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:International Association of Business Communicators: 1970 - 1990: Section 1: Vision to Reality; International Association of Business Communicators
Author:Allan, Elizabeth
Publication:Communication World
Date:May 1, 1990
Previous Article:Tracing the circuitous route of publication design.
Next Article:Public relations firms expand abroad as clients seek worldwide service.

Related Articles
Recollections of IABC's early days.
George McGrath, IABC Chairman 1992-93.
You say you want a revolution?
John Finney discusses his year as IABC's chairman.
Report from the president for the 1996-97 fiscal year.
A conversation with Brenda Siler, IABC's 1998-99 chairwoman.
Looking to the future.
And Away We Go!
The New IABC. (IABC Annual Report 2000-2001).
A community of spirit. (IABC Annual Report 2000-2001).

Terms of use | Copyright © 2016 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters