Julia Oosterman uses a story to illustrate her points about the importance of communications.

When technology and big data converge, the results can be revolutionary. Just don’t forget communications.

Illustrating that point was one of many stories shared by Julia Oosterman at the “Next Big Thing” session for IABC/Toronto Westend members on June 23. Julia described a woman apparently having a heart attack during a meeting, who later found out she was experiencing remote testing of her pacemaker battery.

Oops. The testers had forgotten to warn her.

Communicators clearly have a role to play as the futuristic Jetsons world gets closer. Julia shared four guidelines during her lively and thought-provoking talk:

1. Find a place for innovation

What can you do with innovative technology to break through the noise?

Tools to use include gamification (an intranet treasure hunt, for instance), augmented reality (L’Oreal has a Makeup Genius app for virtual testing) and 3D printing (from fashion accessories to body and car parts, the results are stunning).

2. Understand your risks

“The stakes are unfathomably high and the consequences for brands are higher than ever,” Julia said, pointing to the enduring customer dissatisfaction tale of “United breaks guitars” (which has lasted since 2008).

Tools to use include big data (use information about customers to help you) and geolocation (allowing customizable connections for small businesses).

3. Know that consumers have the power

More than ever, the squeaky wheel (on social media, particularly) gets attention. “We live at a fascinating time, and need to communicate the way people want,” Julia said. “‘Message control’ is no longer possible, but influence is.”

Tools to use include mobile technology (“85% of us reach for our smartphones first thing in the morning,” Julia said. “Communicate with people wherever they are.”)

 4. Provide a personal experience

Tailor content to specific audiences, who want that personalized touch.

Tools to use include wearables, which combine big data and innovation (“Imagine uploading the data from your Fitbit at your doctor’s office,” Julia said, to monitor blood glucose levels and predict the risk of diabetes. “It’s not that far away.”)

“The consistent themes through all areas is that people have clear expectations of timely interaction and authenticity,” Julia said. “It all boils down to integrity, and two-way communications.”

Did you attend the session? What points stood out for you?

Related reading:
My last event review talked about the power of thought
Another event covered effective elevator speeches