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30 January 2020
State of the Sector 2020: What will it take to overcome our barriers?

Today I attended the annual state of the sector event hosted by Gatehouse, a Gallagher Company. This is always a ‘must attend’ event in my calendar as I’m keen to hear how things are shifting for internal communicators.

I’m not sure annual surveys help us that much anymore. I have been thinking about this for the last month or so as I wonder how much really changes in a year. From my 15 years’ working in-house I’m pretty sure things might nudge a bit, but there wasn’t significant change in that my budget would triple or I would suddenly have the solution to reaching those offline employees. It’s with that thinking that I’m reviewing the results I heard today – but it is also with that thinking that I’m wondering how long it takes to actually see a change.

MD Ben Reynolds said “It’s time for us to raise our game as internal communicators and be proud of what impact we have on organisations and what success means for us. We are here and we can make a difference. We need to look at ourselves and say do we really believe, as communicators, that we can have that impact in our organisations?”

It was a powerful opening to a conversation that clearly hasn’t moved on. Print is in decline, digital is on the rise, we don’t plan for the long term and our barriers are still line manager communication skills, hard to reach employees and volume of communication.

If I go back to the slides I saw in 2018 around the priorities and barriers there is a shift – it’s a shift from digital to people:

Top three challenges 2018/2020

2018 2020
Communicating strategy, values and purpose Communicating strategy, values and purpose
Improving digital channels Communicating a change programme
Enhancing leadership communication Developing/refreshing an IC strategy


Top three priorities 2018/2020

2018 2020
Poor line manager communication skills Volume of communication too high
Internal technology not fit for purpose Hard to reach employees
Hard to reach employees Poor line manager communication skills

The lack of focus on digital could be down to the rise of things like O365, better apps coming to market to solve issues or it could simply be that we have made our peace with legacy technology inside our organisations.

The barriers though are consistent. So I’m left wondering again, what will it take for us to overcome these once and for all?

If you want to see more, check out the hashtag #stateofthesector2020 over on Twitter and you can see some of the conversation from the session this morning.

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