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Communication 4.0: Changes Caused By Digitization

Business communication is constantly evolving technically in the course of digitization. New tools expand the market and make communication better, more efficient and faster. But new challenges keep getting in the way of many companies. Digital communication works differently than everything analog that we know. But once you get the hang of it and observe the rules for using various communication channels, it usually works very well. Digitized communication can bring many advantages and make our work and exchange more transparent and efficient. The term Communication 4.0 now summarizes the changes that are currently being used in many companies on different channels.

Changes through digitization to communication 4.0

Basically, the following aspects are among the most important changes in the course of digitization:

  • We are becoming more flexible in the choice of synchronous or asynchronous means of communication .
  • In social media and networks, recipients are increasingly becoming senders.
  • Unconscious communication – especially with machines – is increasing.
  • In the so-called multi-channel environment, we can be reached almost constantly.

These changes are also affecting the world of work and how we work together. After all, communication is known to be the basis of any collaboration. It is therefore important to understand the consequences of digitization for our society and our working world. For organizations and individuals, digitization means an increase in flexible collaboration. Since Corona we have known that we no longer have to be in the same room to be able to communicate efficiently. Even more: Digital communication within organizations enables and promotes joint and decentralized cooperation in projects and processes across different locations and different time zones.

Mastering the challenges of digital communication

However, it often becomes confusing when there are too many communication channels. You are spoiled for choice: Should you write an email now, would a short online meeting be better or, in case of doubt, is a short phone call sufficient? What to consider first in such confusing situations: The purpose of the communication determines the format! For example, an employee appraisal on salary negotiations is better off in an “analogue” conversation than in a video conference. In some cases, facial expressions and gestures are particularly important – they work less well in an online format. On the other hand, digital communication channels work much better when it comes to documenting the goals or tasks discussed in a project. So it always depends on the goal you are pursuing.

Rules help in communication

People, especially if they have been working in a company for a long time, take on certain habits and usually find it difficult to break them. If new communication channels are added, the old “well-established” ones – such as e-mail or the telephone – are often used to the chagrin of others. A good solution for approaching communication in a uniform and structured manner is a catalog of rules for the use of digital communication tools. This avoids double structures or the typical: “I didn’t read that, I haven’t logged in to Slack for 2 days”. If you introduce clear rules such as presence and absence notes and motivate people to use the right channels, digital and even analog communication works much better. Which tool is the right one for the team or the company must be decided together, be tried and evaluated. There is no silver bullet here. Caution: Everyone must be able to use the tools. Training is therefore essential, especially when introducing new communication channels.

Success factors for digital communication

Here are the success factors for the successful use of digital communication channels at a glance:

  • Uniform rules for the use of digital communication channels
  • The choice of tools must fit the team
  • Education/Training: All team members must be able to use the tools
  • Identify and remove information barriers
  • Managers have a role model function
  • Regular evaluation of digital collaboration (employee surveys, discussion at team level)

The three most important topics of digital communication

Communication 4.0 is one of the four most important areas of digital transformation . If you want to learn more about the other topics, you can read here:

  • Connected working
  • Digital teams
  • Digital leadership

Also Read: What Skills Are Needed For Digitization?

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