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And then we go to work.....

We live in a world of digital brilliance. In the age of smartphones, the twenty-first century has seen the birth and development of incredible technology, offering an endless supply of information available at our fingertips, anytime, anywhere. Gaming, social media, video streaming services, online maps and news updates are just a few of the platforms transforming society and the way we live. So why is it, that when you step into the office, digital technology falls behind a decade?

Often the workplace is home to outdated, older technology which is slower, less efficient, and inconvenient to manage. If you can use your phone to control home appliances on the go, like switching off your heating or turning on lights, and you can instantly stream video via services like Facebook live, why can’t corporate technology offer the same freedom?

Answer: It can, and it should.

With the introduction of the cloud computing, and many companies making the move to cloud-based systems, organisations are beginning to reap the benefits of consumer grade technology. But there is still much room for development and improvement.

The Human Age

With technology advancing at an exciting rate, many companies have dedicated considerable amounts of time, money and effort on implementing large enterprise systems. These are all intended to reduce or replace human processes with automation. Although this may have had numerous benefits to the bottom-line, in response the company’s people feel demoralised, devalued and have therefore, taken a back seat. This is where the problem lies: It is these people, the talent, who keep the company alive and thriving.

Everyone should want to improve an individual’s experience in their organisation, in order to keep the employee / employer partnership working at its best. This will not only help build positive feelings in the workplace, but save money on the retention and recruitment of new talent.

Employers need to be focusing on their top talent. Human potential will always be at the forefront of innovation, improvement and success. Technology is needed to help optimise this human potential, and transform the corporate space.

Don’t rule out more traditional outcomes and rewards from a digital programme – 27partners’ accreditation application for the world’s largest FMCG company has but over 2,300 certificates on the walls of sales associates’ homes in developing markets.

Our People

In order to support and engage with our people we need to better understand them. To understand your people, they need to be constantly relinquishing information about themselves to you. You’ll want to know how they’re feeling; what they’re thinking about their job or the project they’re on. What’s their reaction to what the company does and says?

This is where the technology comes in. You need a way of collecting the analytics from underneath the information provided. Technology creates user experiences which help to understand the organisation, for the organisation. By letting individuals interact with the company, through sharing, liking, commenting and engaging with content platforms, they engage with the wider corporation and its goals.

But the technology doesn’t work on it’s own. You need an incentive for your people to engage with you. They need to feel they’re getting something fulfilling out of their experience and this is where the balance between carrot and stick comes in. We know that a mix of rich digital media (videos, pictures and infographics) and the style / tone of the stories that are told are so important.

The dulcet tones of ‘corporate’ comms needs to be a thing of the past, this is 2017, everything is on-demand, Netflix, iPlayer. This is the age of GIFs, memes and tweets, not 45 minute CFO announcements and company memorandums.

Idle Thumb Time

Thanks to hugely successful apps already in the consumer market, businesses will always be competing for your talent’s interest. Think about those few spare minutes during the day, in-between meetings, during lunch, on the move, when there’s time to kill. This idle thumb time is when your talent will most likely be on their phone, checking their social media, reading the news and scrolling through other applications.

One option to help businesses compete with these existing apps, is to build a platform as easily accessible as commercial ones already on the market. This could integrate the internal comms improvements necessary for your business, including 360 feedback, without seeming like extra work for the individual.

Social media apps aren’t just easily accessible; they use specific tailoring to target the personal user. Every time you watch, click, like, share or comment on something it registers the action and then begins a process of filtering through similar adverts, products or videos which you may also be interested in. Social media learns from user choices, and then pitches back similar things. Facebook is one of many platforms who do this; if you watch a video produced by the Huffington Post, it will be followed by a collection of similar videos also made by the Huffington Post or related to that topic.

So how can you harness this idle thumb time to benefit your business? By creating a similar platform which allows the consumption of content or reviews and feedback on the business, meetings, individual employees and wider projects.

For example, if five minutes before the end of a meeting you receive a notification to provide 30 seconds of feedback on the people in that meeting, it can be done easily, without being an inconvenience or particularly time consuming. 27partners did just that for a global fast-food chain, providing their people with the ability to give and receive feedback on each other. Once the notification trigger initiates an action, the user is drawn into the application where they can be exposed to additional information, news and resources.

This technique works: We’ve seen a huge increase in the amount of individual feedback provided, but also a large uptake in the consumption of information on the news feed. Culturally, 77% of users indicated that they believe the application will have strong positive outcomes for them and the business. Over a third of feedback entries are to thank a colleague – this is an acknowledgement that person would be unlikely to receive otherwise.

Creative Considerations

You must create a user experience which is enjoyable, easily accessible and engaging, so that people like using it. Functionality has to be flawless. Any platform or app experience should be no extra inconvenience to the user. It should be an enriching experience, one which inspires and develops the individual, rather than a twenty-minute time-waster consisting of cat pictures and food videos.

Throughout this journey, content must rein (King). It should be informative, clear and engaging in order to entice and hold interest. Without this, anything you hope to learn or any message you want to share will fall flat.

One global brewing and beverage company needed to make their execs’ technology work to keep their annual conference in session all year round. They wanted ‘until next year’ to become a thing of the past. So 27partners created a digital e-magazine that worked offline, distributing curated content to any device, anywhere in the world. The results were amazing, with over 12,000 article views each month. Additionally, there was the ability to tailor content to the individual user, providing a very personalised experience. The result meant people felt valued; encouraging their engagement and providing a reliable platform they could go to get the latest company information.

Internal communications in the twenty-first century is all about creating bespoke digital experiences within an organisation – think like a broadcaster!

Making technology a reality

So how do you guarantee that technology will be a success and worth the time and money invested?

Through careful planning and striking a balance between the four key pillars for successful solutions: people, process, technology and content.

You need to make sure that the right people are assigned to content creation, and an individual or team willing to manage the channel with additional people working to constantly improve the product. With secure ownership, management and responsibility, the project won’t be an extension of the company, but a new channel integrated within the company.

Don’t make the audience fit the technology, design the technology to fit the audience. Enterprise application platforms provide the majority of the engine required to power your application and manage your content. The ergonomics can then be developed over these foundations for a fraction of the cost and time that building an app from scratch would take.

Rather than buying a product already on the market and trying to best fit it to your company needs, low-code platforms enable a technology journey which continually adjusts for improvement, constantly staying up to date in a continually shifting environment. Buying something general may temporarily work and be useful, but in the long-term won’t assist your ROI’s and general interest may waver. Unlike a bespoke platform, it won’t give you the benefits of fully understanding your employees and tailoring the user journeys to them.

The buyer must own the service, which means that as they’re accountable for how it runs and works, they will have full knowledge of the platform. This comes with a clear understanding of the short and long-term benefits. Rather than buying something with the reliance on others to make it succeed, the business can come into it’s own and control every part of the system.

The leap of faith

Although the idea of building an experience which changes your company culture and the way you run internal communications can be daunting, by breaking it down into smaller steps your end goal is completely achievable. It is amazing to look back on the number of global programmes we’re running that started with a single person, with a single idea and absolutely no budget.

The process begins with understanding the business outcomes, the problems that are looking to be solved. Then we take a look at what already exists, as we know technology and the market inside out.

This is really where 27partners shines: We reduce the risk of making the wrong decisions or purchasing the wrong products. Instead we can provide a business case for investment in the more bespoke technology, with access to existing products to help build an understanding of what is out there. We can help map out the journey to a platform which achieves your company goals and support you through the entire process.

With the right help, there is no leap of faith. We’re not asking you to take massive risks, just do the little things to understand what you need and what can be done, to help create and direct the process.

At the end of the day, internal communications is all about getting a seat at the table, and this is no longer about staying in with the norms and following the crowd. This is about making a difference, proving ROI’s and achieving and exceeding intended outcomes, all for your talent.

rob.dumbleton@27partners.com

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