– But is it really that new?

Let’s have a Fireside Chat…

Over the last few days we have witnessed Donald J Trump inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States of America.  Now I declare up front, that I am staying a long way away from the politics here.  I don’t consider my own understanding of American politics sufficient to honestly support any more specific analysis.

There is, however, one aspect of the “Trumpster’s” ascendancy that I do find fascinating for us in the IT space.  Somehow he has rallied the support of an estranged group.  In short, he is seen as having spoken to “Middle America”.  I am not making that as a political statement, simply as recognition that he has both reached, and then mobilised, what is a constituency that has felt alienated, perhaps for a long time.

This was achieved against many pundits’ beliefs that the outcome would squarely favour another outcome.  So if we back away from the politics element, let’s examine the mechanics of what has happened here?  At one level the simple acts of democracy have prevailed; “the people have spoken” and I would never undermine that fact; yet how was the result achieved?

Having just posed a number of questions, lets try and unpack what really has happened.

One element of my examination is that Trump has been greatly criticised for his use of Twitter.  From a negative perspective, it has been presented as a type of flaw.  The classic political journalists’ community have been damning, reporting as though Trump has made huge mistakes in using this back channel.  However, have Trump’s personal tweets been a mistaken communication option, or has this stream been a logical choice all along?

The new President’s approach is not unprecedented.  Back in the 1930’s Franklin D Roosevelt used the social media channel of his day: Radio.  Orating across the airwaves, Roosevelt addressed his constituents in a series of 30, relatively informal programs, covering a whole series of topics; he called these “Fireside Chats”.

Roosevelt was an extremely popular president; in a “Poll of Polls” conducted in 2015 he was recorded as the third most popular, behind Abraham Lincoln and George Washington.  Interestingly, his term of Presidency also spanned a period in history of enormous social upheaval and global war.  Often navigating through such turbulence has led to unpopularity; yet with Roosevelt, quite the adverse seems true.

So what can we perhaps learn from all this?  Modern social media channels were, until relatively recently, sometimes seen as a relatively frivolous communication mechanism.  Today, however, all organisations have a need to understand and master the social and digital mediums and channels relevant to their customers / users and thereby business.

From a human communication point of view, this is a significant consideration, with digitally enabled companies more and more reaching their equivalent constituencies, (clients / customers, users, partners, employees), in this widely enabled way.

As the world of digital and social media continues to accelerate apace, however, on the imminent horizon a whole new “constituency” that needs attention from organisations is appearing: the “Internet of Things”, (IoT).  When human communication is joined by machine feedback, in many forms, an inability to deal with this new “constituency” will inevitably lead to competitive disadvantage.

The great news is that the kind of enabling technologies needed are broadly similar, regardless of man or machine.  Failing to embrace this ability, however, would, in the case of the social and digital human-based tools, be unacceptable for most organisations today.  The same applies for the machine constituency, which will also become imminently problematic.  These elements of change will undoubtedly become part of the decision-making landscape for many IT and Digital strategy teams – what will form the range of different consumption options being explored? Cloud, hybrid, scale what already exists, change technology, all of the above, none of the above, etc?

In looking forward to the future, perhaps we can also learn from history, what has already passed, from how Roosevelt and Trump made sure they spoke directly to their constituencies using the most current language and medium.

At Accordant we help organisations explore the most appropriate means of enabling those communications.  Building on our experience and expertise we understand the range of options, and work with you in modelling the permutations.  Using our bespoke AccSL® tool kit will enable you to reach those new constituencies with clear business logic about the most appropriate choices.


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(Image: / Thomas’s Pics)

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