We are currently witnessing the dawn of large language models (LLMs), such as ChatGPT. These are changing the way we work and the way we learn – particularly the way we search for information. There has been a huge reaction from education leaders, worrying about such tools being used to help students cheat their way through their studies, or fearing that they will be fed incorrect information. 

On the other hand, in the workplace, GenZ employees have bought into the AI hype. They are using the technology to help them with various work tasks, but have a huge fear of managers finding out. This is due to lack of company regulation around whether they should or shouldn’t be using these tools to support their work. 

The real conversation here though is, how useful is ChatGPT and other similar tools when it comes to research? With over 80% of the search market share, Google is the household favourite, but even Google has its limitations. Google is set up to search by keywords, but not to dive into granular and complex questions. For example, if I use Google and search ‘AI’, the results come back with a multitude of news items, various descriptions of AI and a range of company articles using the term ‘AI’. 

This is where tools like Chat GPT come in. Using an LLM, I have the ability to ask a question such as ‘Can you describe what AI is’, and it comes back with a detailed description of AI and its use cases. This is information that can be pulled into any written work without having to use a single brain cell. This type of language model has the ability to understand and respond to natural language and provide answers that are both informative and entertaining, generating a variety of responses to each user’s questions.  

However, the major limitation of ChatGPT is that the data only runs up to 2021, so for many trying to use this tool, the information will be far too out of date to create current and reliable content. This is a major point for those working in tech comms, as the speed of innovation is so fast that information quickly becomes outdated. 

Aside from this limitation, there have also been concerns around the ethical implications, including privacy, bias in training data and lack of human interaction. More commonly used search engines don’t have these same problems, and therefore are more reliable to use for research. Using a manual search engine relies on people to manually gather and organise their own data and information, based on the latest information available. On the other hand, an AI search engine relies on computers and algorithms and their pre-trained and installed data to produce results. This is one of the key differences when using either for searching. 

However, a search tool is only as good as the data it provides. Google provides results to our keyword searches based on the algorithm it uses to deem information credible. ChatGPT hasn’t yet been transparent about its sources, which again makes using it for research difficult. 

Looking at this from a comms perspective (as we’re comms people after all) these changes will be significant to our output. Firstly, we’re constantly researching to ensure we are knowledgeable for our clients. But secondly, and importantly, a lot of what we do influences Google results. An amazing article about our client in a national newspaper like the Financial Times, will feature at the top of search results and will have an impact on that company’s reputation. In B2B, the sales process often starts with Google! But as LLMs continue to develop, what will it mean for a company’s reputation and how they feature in LLM results?

There is no doubt that LLMs will continue to have a huge impact on the way we search, work, and learn. We’re at an important juncture, where not only the likes of Google will look to make significant changes to its platform, but we’ll also see a huge range of new players enter and compete in the ‘AI race’. It’s not too dissimilar to when we witnessed the disappearance of Nokia, Motorola and Blackberry as Apple and Microsoft became the dominant players in the mobile phone evolution. I think we’ll see something very similar happen here!

Most of us who frequent social media platforms will have probably given in to the recommendations of an influencer in one way or another. Whether it be an Amazon gadget or a new trending celeb recipe, influencers have the power to impact decisions of consumers across all age groups.

Over the years, influencer marketing has been on the rise. In 2021, 44% of B2C brands in Europe said they planned to increase their influencer marketing budget. What was a $1.7 billion industry, in 2016 has since grown to become worth $16 billion in 2022, with expectations for it to grow to $21 billion this year. But with all the emphasis put on these influencers to build a brand’s reputation, what are the implications if this falls apart? The new ‘de-influencer’ trend might be the first sign of cracks in the influencer world.

So far, the de-influencing hashtag has garnered 180 million TikTok views since the trend began in January this year. De-influencing is when content creators uncover the truth about products consumers have been pushed to purchase, all in a bid to address overconsumption.

Like consumers, businesses face difficulties in the current economic climate. Layoffs have continued to dominate the headlines, putting the decisions of business leaders centre stage – they’re not only being judged by their employees but the general public too. In a similar vein, the de-influencer movement gives consumers the ‘right information’ they need to make better decisions with their money. Society craves authenticity, and with ‘cancel culture’ still present, no brand or business is safe from judgment. The jury is fierce and they take no prisoners. Now more than ever, shaping reputation is crucial.

This isn’t the first sign of consumers becoming savvier to how and where they should be spending their money. During the last decade we saw a huge rise in the importance of a business having the right ESG credentials, driven not only by government regulation but also investor and stakeholder demand. However, ESG’s critics believe that companies are using the loosely defined term to “greenwash,” or make unrealistic or misleading claims, especially about their environmental credentials.

As B2B marketing strategies look to use business influencers on TikTok to complement product content on LinkedIn, they must ensure they know exactly who their audiences are and more importantly use the right influencers. After all, partnering with the wrong influencer can dramatically affect a brand’s credibility and ruin its reputation.

Whilst the de-influencer movement isn’t completely exempt from its own criticism of its authenticity, it’s brought up some really important conversations. It’s provided us with the space we need to stop and think about our decisions more closely, focusing on becoming better humans overall. As consumers, investors and end users are all focused on making the right  decisions – whether it’s buying a dress from an environmentally charged retailer or investing in the most ethical AI driven product – businesses should focus on creating clear and concise messaging and communicating through the most effective means possible.

Zooming out of the detail of these trends to looking at a company’s reputation as a whole, it’s important for leaders in comms to build meaningful relationships based on trust. This trust influences more than just purchasing, permeating all aspects of the company. There’s nowhere for organisations to hide, and any step of the way there’s judgement, so shaping a reputation in this new era, is about gaining trust through a comms strategy that puts transparency and authenticity at the forefront. 

When we think of sport we think of athletes. Athletes that are at the top of their physical game, with abilities that simply defy the laws of gravity. Basketball fans have long admired Michael Jordan’s hang time, and the game of football has never been able to understand Cristiano Ronaldo’s headers which seem to stop time entirely. As we witness various industries digitally transform, the world of sport has not been left behind.

There has been a huge shift in technological advancement which has made it easier for athletes to optimise their performance and improve the experience for spectators at sporting events. Looking 10 years ahead, we can only imagine where the world of technology will take us in sport, but for now, we can marvel at the newest innovations of today which continue to change the pace of the game.

Team Jumbo Visma tearing up Tour de France – 2022

This year, Team Jumbo-Visma led the way, charging ahead of their components for the majority of the races. Jonas Vingegaard won the men’s race, and Marianne Vos claimed the green jersey for most points. Both riders were among the favourites for their respective titles, but one stark difference was the men’s team adopted the use of simulation to fully capitalise on the talent of Vingegaard, and winning the La Grande Boucle.

How does simulation play into this you ask? Fighting air resistance represents up to 90% of the energy spent by the athletes. Team Jumbo-Visma works with some of the best athletic aerodynamics experts in the world, using digital simulation to optimise performance through better aerodynamics. It consisted of solving vast, complex systems of equations with millions of unknowns to improve their performance. Simulation proved to be a pivotal cog in the winning machine!

Data driving football analysis and spectator engagement

Major Spanish football league, LaLiga has looked to its data architecture to better understand its players performance and importantly create a better more personalised experience for its fans. This is all being done through a lakehouse data architecture.

By combining the best attributes of a data lake and a data warehouse, the lakehouse is able to deliver better data management and performance through low-cost, flexible object stores. LaLiga has created a world where data informs almost every aspect of how sports are played and experienced. The data team at LaLiga uses data and AI for match statistics and in-play analysis, based on data from cameras in each club’s stadium. It allows data scientists at the clubs to perform pre- and post-match analysis and predict player injuries before they occur.

The future of technology in sport

There are many more advancements in tech which are changing the world of sport, but the best is likely yet to come. We’re on the cusp of a sports technology revolution with the global sports technology market being currently valued at US $17.9 billion and expectations to reach US $40.2 billion by 2026. However, some avid football fans would agree that VAR technology needs some work – depending on which side of a team you’re on!

Last year, we witnessed a rather successful period for investment, seeing the highest amount of global IPO activity in a decade. This flurry continued into 2021, where the UK alone saw more than 50 companies go public, which was more than we saw in the whole of 2020. With the spate of floatation’s this year, are we seeing a healthier investment landscape?

What’s particularly interesting to see is that the second quarter of 2021 was the busiest in the US for tech listings for two whole decades. This is perhaps not surprising seeing as there has been a huge shift in the digital transformation during the pandemic, and a lot of the companies assisting us with this shift were able to attract new investment following their rapid growth during this period. This gust of IPO activity wasn’t solely in the US, as the UK experienced its own busy period seeing more IPOs during the first two quarters of 2021 compared with the whole of 2020.

Despite seeing a healthy market for IPOs in the UK, there still seems to be a redundance of tech companies coming over to list in the UK. It is well known that tech companies are put off by London’s stringent listing regulations and prefer an easier journey across the pond, but earlier this year, star players made their debut on the London market. Trust Pilot, Darktrace and Wise are a handful of firms that are paving the way for other tech companies to join them, following their successful IPOs which saw some of the stocks more than double in value.  Unfortunately this wasn’t the tale for all tech listings in the UK after the highly anticipated listing of Deliveroo tumbled seeing the share price fall more than 30% on its first appearance. Luckily for them, shares have now somewhat recovered, finally creeping above its original listing price.

To assist with attracting more tech investment in London, UK regulators have now planned to reduce some of these rules, making it easier for tech companies to list in the UK to compete with the US and Europe post-Brexit. Along with this, here are our thoughts on why the UK is heating up as a top tech listing destination:

Dual-class share structures

Dual-class capital structures have been used in some of the most high-profile IPOs by technology companies, including the offerings by Facebook, Google and LinkedIn. Although there is an argument that dual-class structures destroy shareholder value, there is compelling evidence that these structures can benefit companies, shareholders, and capital markets. Some critics argue the listing rules applicable to the premium segment should be amended to permit dual-class share structures, alleviating the risk of a founder being derailed and removed as director. When a company’s reputation is tied to its founder, it means that the communication efforts to put a face and expertise to a brand isn’t lost.

Continued digital shift

The digital shift we are witnessing has been a long time coming especially with the accelerating effects of the pandemic. While the impact of Covid-19 has had a negative impact on many businesses, tech stocks have continued to boom. Whilst we are all keen to see the back of Covid, the efficiencies we’ve seen from moving many aspects of our lives online has been undisputed. If this digital wave continues to take off, we are likely to see more activity on the UK stock exchange as investors will back these techies who are experiencing rapid growth.

Leading tech eco-system

Companies will be attracted to list in London, with its lively tech scene, and access to all the right people in a diverse and strong talent pool. In addition to this, access to high-quality funding also demonstrates the depth of capital in the ecosystem, with the average seed round in London standing at £470k, compared with the global average of £360k. Entrepreneurs must innovate faster as we launch into a new era of digital transition, and many are flocking to build within the UK economy.  In such a high-paced environment, tech firms will need to balance communications strategies carefully to engage with all stakeholders – potential new customers, existing customer, future workforce and investors.

London has already been crowned the tech capital of Europe, and with the market already looking healthier post-Covid-19, we are hopefully waiting to see more homegrown tech players make the transition from private to public.

It’s happened, we finally made it! Restrictions have been lifted and we can all take those masks off, just in time for the summer to really kick in. This news is welcome for many, but there are still a lot of us who are worried about infection rates and of course, our wonderful NHS. This is clearly not the end of the road with Covid but it’s the beginning of us trying to move forward carefully.

Companies are slowly navigating their way back into the office with most of them adopting the hybrid working model. Interestingly, some of our big tech companies such as Google, Apple and Amazon want their employees in at least three days a week, whereas Spotify and Facebook as letting its managers decide what’s best. It’s safe to say, it probably won’t be a ‘one size fits all’ scenario here.

With tech in mind, let’s run through some of the standout stories we’ve seen this month!

Earlier in July we all gathered round for the highly anticipated final of the Euros, where we watched England and Italy go head-to-head. With a penalty shootout being the decider of the winner, England unfortunately fell short, and Italy took the trophy! But the saddest part about this was the horrific online racist abuse that our young talented boys had to face after. There was a huge uproar in reaction and social media companies were being called out to do more to stop this abuse. Boris Johnson called on the big tech companies to attend Downing Street to discuss what more they can do about online abuse, pledging to take action via its online safety bill. 

On a more positive note, Netflix are reportedly planning on going into gaming, hiring Mike Verdu, a former EA executive to lead the way. In the next year we will see games be available at no further cost to the current subscription. I’m sure this will do well in attracting a whole new range of customers.

Looking at the stock exchange now, and the FCA is looking to make changes to the listing regulations in a bid to attract more tech companies. Although, the private UK tech sector is doing well with the likes of Revolut, now the UK’s most valuable tech company following its $800m raise. Reportedly, investors poured more money into private start-ups this year so far compared to the whole of 2020!

And last but not least, and by far my most favourite story this month, a student has designed a potentially life-saving device that has the potential to rapidly stop blood loss from stab wounds. We love to see these impressive innovations coming through, especially from such young talent!

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