My 2015 Internal Communications Predictions – Part 1.
There’s something special about the end of one year and the start of a new one.
It may be that for many of us, we get time off work and an opportunity to spend time with loved ones that we don’t get at any other time.
Whatever the reason, I find it a great time to reflect on successes – and failures – over the previous 12 months, and think about what the future may hold.
So, here is the first of two articles about what 2015 might hold for those of us involved in internal communications (IC) and employee engagement.
As ever, I'd welcome your own ideas and thoughts about 2015 - and what you see happening in organisations. You don't need to work in internal comms or employee engagement - in fact, I'd really value your thoughts if you work in a different part of the business and are a customer of IC. What do you need more or less of to help you succeed?
Share less, but with greater impact
I thought I'd kick off with something I call the 'scatter-gun approach' to internal communications. And why it has no place in #internalcomms in 2015.
Thanks to the internet, we are bombarded with information on a daily basis – and thanks to increasing competition, we have even less time to do something with that information.
According to an article from one of my favourite publications, the Harvard Business Review, more internet data is created every second compared to the entire internet’s storage 20 years ago.
That has a very significant impact on how we work - that is discussed is more detail here
– but what does it mean for IC?
Fundamentally, it means today, more than ever, we need to be very clear about what we are trying to achieve strategically, and then consider what that means tactically.
Blanket emails and vanity announcements need to stop – and more internal communications practitioners will be prepared to stand up and be counted for what they believe in.
Instead, we will be investing more time in creating content that drive conversations in our organisations – which brings me nicely to my second thought!
The way organisations were structured in the 20th century can trace its roots back to the industrial revolution, when people worked in small ventures, more often than not located in the same place. Back then, a bureaucratic structure existed because job roles and tasks were repetitive and clearly defined. Communication was top-down and one-way.
Today though, our organisations need to compete on a global scale, and are an altogether different beast. They are leaner, flatter, more flexible and striving be be agile – and we can support that structure by implementing tools and channels that create connections and a broader sense of community.
Today, employees work at locations all over the country (and globally) and so we will need to re-evaluate our channel mix to understand if they are really fit for purpose in the 21st Century.
But you may be forgiven for thinking this is just about enterprise social networks, although this inevitably is part of the strategy for most organisations.
Perhaps more importantly though, is the need to tell stories about what the organization is ‘up to’, in a way that encourages people to get involved and ultimately care. Unlike Field of Dreams, if you build it, people don't necessarily come!
Enterprise Smartphone Apps – but not BYOD
On average, smartphone owners use 30 apps a month
– and that's a trend set to increase. At work however, most of us still rely on bulky desk-based intranet platforms to share content, which is out of kilter with how people access information out of work.
And so, 2015 will be the year of the enterprise smartphone application. I predict that as adoption of corporate apps increases, costs will decrease and it will be the norm for companies to have multiple apps for employees to access anything from news to benefits and everything in between. Ideally, these will connect seamlessly to productivity tools that run in the cloud, like Office 365 and Google Apps.
But although there will be inevitably be more formal Bring Your Own Device IT strategies implemented, I think a less formalised approach will develop, with employees using their preferred (and own) device with a more relaxed approach by IT teams, due in part to improvements in security in smartphone apps.
Most companies today simply cannot afford to kit out all their employees with the latest iPhone or Android device – and so instead employees are asking to use their own phone or tablet, rather than a slower, less intuitive OS running on inferior hardware.
In my next article I’ll talk about why employee engagement is critical, and perhaps the biggest challenge facing organisations today – trust.
What do you think are the trends likely to continue – or emerge in 2015? Do you agree? Please share your comments below.