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New tech, new communities

By Soraya Darabi

The emerging new tech is designed to bring us closer together and what that means to an industry that’s just starting to get social.

Community-enabled technology: in short, it’s tech that enables us to feel closer to our respective communities. At TMV, we maintain a strong thesis on the future of community-enabled tech—what it looks like, what it feels like, how it works. 20 years ago, it was unfathomable that we would communicate more on email than phone. Then instant messaging programs usurped traditional email, and so on, until today, we have over a dozen mediums on which to connect, from text to direct message. In the past decade, social networks have almost tripled their user base, from 970 million in 2010 to over 3.81 billion users in 2020. The average person has 8.6 social media accounts, up from 4.8 in 2014. And while 70% of the total US population has a presence on social media, only 27% actively use it in their jobs. (Backlinko, Social Media, and Growth Statistics: How Many People Use Social Media in 2020?” Brian Dean.)

What does this mean for the business world? At TMV, we predict that the financial industry will soon make a dramatic shift toward active engagement on a suite of social networks, some niche, and sector-specific, others vast and accessible. The transition mirrors what we are accustomed to seeing within the consumer and public domains. The business industry is, however, late to the party, although many firms are certainly starting to break the ice.

According to Harvard Business Review, “Research has shown that 82% of employees think that social media can improve work relationships and 60% believe social media support decision-making processes. These beliefs contribute to a majority of workers connecting with colleagues on social media, even during work hours.” (Harvard Business Review.) Given the importance of community-building to create new ideas and garner support for them, it’s no surprise that social platforms will be incorporated more deeply into work. But we have only scratched the surface in terms of what community-enabled tech can do for the business industry.

Enterprise communication will continue to proliferate in the years ahead, accompanied by large-scale use of AI and chatbots. Just recently an enterprise founder and friend sent me a text—but it wasn’t actually from him. He had coded a chatbot that asked his closest contacts for their home addresses in order to send holiday cards via “snail mail.” I wrote back to his real number and remarked on the brilliance and efficiency of the idea. “It could be an app,” he responded. This is all to say that we can look forward to brilliant new forms of communication emerging from the smartest minds in enterprise—the same kind of imagination and purpose that led my colleague to create a tool that is at once impersonal and highly personal.

Gartner predicts that by 2021, over 50% of enterprise companies (like Google, IBM and Facebook) will spend more money each year on chatbots than mobile apps. And according to Opus Research, $4.5 billion will be spent on chatbot technology. Whether community-enabled tech brings us closer to our professional or to our interpersonal communities, it’s bound to include new platforms and new ways to create networks and strong micro-communities with a shared purpose. As remote work appears (at least in large part) here to stay, new technology will also focus on allowing people to feel closer to their colleagues on a level of depth and substance that current social networks and video conferencing tools lack. We’ll see new technology grow more human, and humans grow more adept at communicating clearly with tools that truly help build relationships.

About The Author

Soraya Darabi General Partner and Founder TMV
Soraya is a General Partner and founder of TMV, an early-stage venture firm investing in startups reimagining the future. Soraya is also the host of "Business Schooled - a Podcast by Synchrony," – a "Top 20 Business Podcast" on Apple. Soraya began her career as Manager of Digital Partnerships & Social Media at The New York Times.
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