Above (left to right):  Marco Magli, Alessandra Mazzei, Rupert Younger, Marco Bardazzi and Mario Levratto.

In business, dealing with uncertainty is nothing new. It is inherent to markets the world over and to the evolution of each company. And, for communications professionals, it has always been a prerequisite for improving communication models and tools. What is new today, however, is the perception of an uncertainty that research by the Brand & Reputation Collective defines as 'radical'. It is this radical uncertainty which we explored at the EACD Debate in Milan with the help of our panellists: Marco Bardazzi, Executive Vice President Communications at ENI; Alessandra Mazzei, Director at the Centre for Employee Relations and Communication at IULM University Milan; Rupert Younger, Director, Oxford University Centre for Corporate Reputation, Saïd Business School; and Mario Levratto, Head of Marketing and External Relations, Samsung Electronics Italia.

We have entered a new territory, where the mistrust, prejudice and discredit of traditional intermediate bodies - whether government institutions, industry experts or journalists - reigns. Intermediation has been disrupted, and companies are increasingly exposed to intense scrutiny.

Furthermore, there has been a breakthrough in consumer attitudes. They feel more empowered, more informed and, consequently, are more demanding. They are increasingly aware of the importance that companies place on their reputation, so they leverage this to get what they want.

Above all is the expectation of the corporation to take a stand on social issues:

The survey clearly diagnoses an antidote to radical uncertainty in creating and nurturing an authentic organisational culture based on purpose. Shared and engaged within the company, supported by management, transparent and open to expectations coming from outside.

Our panellists agreed that radical uncertainty also offers opportunities: it can act as a stimulus for organisations to strengthen their organisational culture by working more closely with employees in developing a water-tight to work on sense of purpose and values.

I also truly believe in the need to evolve our role of communicators. Dealing with radical uncertainty today and in the future, means being open to the introduction of new, cross-functional competences into our teams. Data analysis, artificial intelligence as well as an authentically human touch are fundamental in order to strengthen our profession. 

My thanks to them and especially Mario Levratto for not only taking part in our debate but also generously hosting it in the impressive Samsung District premises in Milan.