The early years of the new millennium witnessed a digital transformation, the impact of which I believe will rival that of the industrial revolution. While people have and should hope this movement will bring us closer together, research has shown that it has, in many ways, left us more disconnected than ever. And it happened fast.
Hard-wired for connection, people are seeking new sources of belonging, offering businesses the opportunity of a lifetime.
While I battled with conjugations in a college Spanish class on June 29, 2007, Steve Jobs made a slightly more impressive statement: the first iPhone was released. For many, it is the iconic smartphone that pushed the tech industry to make its first major leap forward since the advent of the internet. What a leap it was; the smartphone has completely changed how people consume information and connect with others.
For most humans to have simultaneous, instant access to information is a shockingly new development. And for a race continually searching for knowledge and understanding, this access was bound to be world-changing. People no longer needed to look to the more traditional institutions for information, truth, or even identity.
We also can’t forget that it was only 15 years ago, in February 2004, that “The Facebook” launched. What started as a site for college students to talk to each other ultimately helped spawn the social media generation. Today, Facebook boasts more than 2.2 billion users – more than 30 percent of all humans on earth.
Initially, technology like this helped us as communicators to explore new, faster ways of reaching audiences. Now we know it’s not all fun and games in the Wild West.
While society is fragmenting quickly in the digital age, reaggregation is just starting, leaving a great sense of unease. Gen Z, the first true smartphone generation, is reportedly the most anxious generation yet. Do we wonder why? In a world with little black and white, fully good or bad, where can they find clarity? Where can they find a community they truly connect with, face-to-face and heart-to-heart?
This assessment may feel gloomy, and while it’s sometimes hard not to feel like the world is fracturing to our detriment, I believe we are awakening and coming together anew.
Businesses are a focal point for this shift. As our society restructures, people are making more targeted choices about where they work, live, shop and play. Employees and customers are looking to their companies for MORE. The companies we choose to work for or buy from are becoming a significant part of our identity.
A great opportunity lies within what feels like chaos. Companies have the chance to not only serve the people looking to them for leadership and connection but to reap the side benefits of meaningful engagement. Suddenly, the concept of community is innovative and vital to enterprise success. Community moves organizations. Community means common goals, healthy relationships, customers identifying with the product and employees engaged with their work; increasingly, companies are recognizing that this increased buy-in is resulting in higher productivity and bottom-line results.
Right now, many technological innovators are recognizing the challenges we’ve created and they’re on the forefront of figuring out how to keep technology from destroying our communities — instead using it to build new, healthy ones. With our new vision to Awaken Community, KWI is proud to be among them, working to activate and connect healthy, thriving communities across the globe. Whether it’s creating unity within companies, engaging public audiences, or building community with our teams, the bottom line is that we foster a better world when we connect with one another.