- Kevin Dulaney leads technical innovation at Hotwire Global, a marketing and communications consulting firm.
- Dulaney told Insider that technology-focused strategies and AI tools can help other companies improve.
- This article is part of “Tech Leadership Playbook,” a series that shares advice from the most innovative tech executives.
Kevin Dulaney has a big assignment. As executive vice president of technology and innovation at Hotwire Global, a marketing and communications consultancy, he must develop an IT strategy that connects a global team of more than 400 employees and enables them to deliver innovative campaigns for a diverse list of international clients.
But Dulaney — who was included in PRWeek’s 2023 “Dashboard 25” list honoring influential people in communications technology — is up for the challenge. When it came to developing and implementing Hotwire Global’s IT strategy, Dulaney made sure he saw technology as “an enabler” for the entire company and not “just another tool set,” he told Insider.
Dulaney and his team encourage employees to “embrace technology in every aspect of their work” to increase efficiency. He believes that data and insights, in particular, empower employees to do their best work alongside customers and the company’s internal teams.
This strategy has helped the company achieve accolades over the years: In 2020, Forbes named Hotwire Global one of the top PR agencies in the US; in 2021 The Sunday Times honored the consultancy as the best small company to work for in London; and just this year, Insider recognized Hotwire Global senior executive Maribeth Darling as an emerging leader in public relations.
Of course, it’s not easy to encourage everyone to embrace technology, as some people may be afraid of change. But a big part of Dulaney’s job is to arouse curiosity rather than hesitation.
An expert with more than 20 years of experience in IT and technology innovation, Dulaney shared insight into how companies can strengthen the use of technology within their organization.
Always be informed and promote connectivity
With technology evolving at a rapid pace, Dulaney’s team must keep abreast of the latest developments and apply them to different areas of the business. “My team looks at tools as soon as they appear or as soon as they are identified,” he said. “We then evaluate the tool to see if there’s a use case for it in the company.”
As part of its IT strategy, Hotwire Global has implemented a concept called “One Team” that works as a “collective without boundaries and working together regardless of location or background,” according to Dulaney. At the heart of this strategy is a technology-based collaboration suite.
“The pandemic has highlighted the importance of this technology,” Dulaney said. “It showed us that conventional offices may no longer be a thing, so how do we maintain that same connectedness and corporate culture?”
He added, “The only way to do that is through synchronous and asynchronous collaboration tools like Slack and Zoom, and all the other tools we use to create the conversations for ourselves and with our customers.”
Sink your teeth into technology that collects data and insights
Data, insights and automation are also an essential part of Hotwire Global’s IT strategy, especially when it comes to the customer experience. Artificial intelligence, machine learning and predictive modeling enable clients to use data to improve the effectiveness of marketing and communications campaigns, Dulaney said.
“By leveraging these technologies, we can bridge the gap with our customers by giving them the real power of data to optimize strategies, measure impact and enable business growth,” he added.
Recently, Hotwire Global’s IT team developed a language library powered by the AI chatbot ChatGPT. The goal was to help employees “seek solutions, answers and information in a way that is most comfortable for them,” Dulaney said.
While Internet of Things (IoT) solutions like Alexa and Google Home focus on question-and-answer interactions, ChatGPT is more conversational, according to Dulaney. “It’s more like having a conversation with your manager or colleague to get information,” he said. “It breaks that barrier of ‘am I asking the right question?’ and focuses on ‘Do I have a conversation?'”
The AI-based language library — ChatGPT’s colloquial representation of Hotwire Global’s original language library — is supported by Hotwire Global’s existing processes, documents, information, and internal communications. The result, Dulaney said, is “more conversational data versus just automated replies.”
Create ethical guidelines around the use of technology
Dulaney is clear that generative AI solutions like ChatGPT cannot be a “complete replacement” for human talent. Instead, he sees it as a tool to boost the agency’s creativity. To ensure that employees use tools like ChatGPT ethically, Hotwire Global’s IT team has established AI guidelines and best practices.
“Part of those guidelines also address how unreliable these tools can be,” Dulaney said. “It’s been proven to have no legitimate information and sometimes it just makes up data altogether. And when you look at it from a diversity and equity lens, it creates its knowledge base from information that’s already out there. This system pulls from databases and pulls from sources that already have ingrained biases.”
Visualize and materialize
For leaders at other companies looking to use technology more in their day-to-day roles and operations, Dulaney recommended creating a vision that takes into account business priorities and the desired technology to be adopted.
They then need to invest in technology and roll it out to an initial group of stakeholders to measure return on investment and make necessary changes to strategy. Another tip is to make sure those working on the IT team understand the business and the day-to-day challenges it faces so they can find effective technical solutions to problems.
Look ahead and prepare for more progress
For the foreseeable future, Dulaney expects technologies such as automation and AI to continue to transform the skillset of PR professionals. He believes they should know how to create prompts to get the required information through AI tools and use automation to improve efficiency in their roles.
However, he expects technologies such as augmented reality, virtual reality and mixed reality to have the greatest impact on the PR industry in the coming decades. “That universe is going to open up a whole new demo for us to tell immersive experiences and stories,” said Dulaney.