Digital Decade – By Elias Jabbe

Elias Jabbe is a communications consultant at Elias213.com

There’s nothing quite like a new decade when it comes to opportune moments for reflecting on our long-term growth plans. Now is the time to strategise for the goal of leaving this decade with more skills than we entered it with.

For example, I am enrolled on PR courses and also keep an eye on the global tech community. And for good reason: Recent research has confirmed that technology’s impact on communications is growing. Microsoft’s 2020 Vision: Trends to Define the next Decade report cited SEO and adaptability as the most important hard and soft skills for marketers during the 2020s. The Arthur W. Page Society also recently announced that communications technology is a critical aspect of our industry’s future.

The question that must be asked is: How do we keep up with all the changes? Good luck can often be created by simple habits. Curation service Product Hunt, a tech community favourite that I’ve used since my start-up days, facilitates the discovery of new products that affect communications and other fields. Product Hunt’s Google Chrome extension helps me learn about highly ranked products every rime I open a new browser tab.

One of those products relevant to communications is Acciyo, an artificial intelligence-powered start-up from Los Angeles.

The tool, which functions as a Google Chrome extension, leverages natural language processing (NLP) to help us better understand the context of news.

Anum Hussain, co-founder and CEO of Acciyo, says: “Reading the news has historically been focused on minute-by-minute updates, but often readers are days, if not weeks, behind on a story. Living in a 24-hour news cycle makes it nearly impossible to stay on top of the endless topics. At Acciyo, we use machine learning to do the difficult work of digging up the ‘previous chapters’ of a news story, and present them to you in a chronological timeline. This timeline appears to the right of your screen automatically as you open a web article.

“For communication professionals, specifically, this technology can help you quickly and easily get a bird’s-eye view on how a narrative has evolved and see the key points in the story development. You may also find events on the timeline you weren’t aware of, further fuelling you with helpful context to understand any news topic beyond the headline.”

AI and NLP are also leveraged in various MENA countries via Arabic-centric platforms. Jordan-based startup Mawdoo3 launched an Arabic AI assistant called Salma, while New York University Abu Dhabi researchers at the Computational Approaches to Modelling Language (CAMEL) lab co-created Arabic dialect analysis tool Madamira with Columbia University.

“NLP has already been adopted widely and entered our day-to-day life,” says Muhammad Chbib, a serial tech entrepreneur who currently heads B2B e-commerce platform Tradeling.com.

“In the future, NLP will be augmented with automated analysis of voice patterns, facial expression and vitality signals. This will enable businesses to tailor their content and communication not only to location and context, but also to the emotional states of recipients.”

One concern we should have revolves around how rapidly we implement what we learn: research from CIPR’s AI in PR panel report illustrates that AI isn’t being embraced by PR professionals quickly enough.

With that being said, CIPR partners with the Middle East Public Relations Association (MEPRA) to offer multiple educational resources.

“Public relations practitioners have a duty to ensure their skills and knowledge reflect the highest standards of practice and MEPRA has a duty to ensure our professionals have access to training in order to do so,” says MEPRA executive director Sabrina De Palma.

“Through MEPRA’s partnership with CIPR, our members have exclusive access to CIPR’s continuing professional development online portal which includes free webinars on demand, best practice guides, industry papers and more.”

Who’s ready for a decade of reinvention?