In a couple of hours, I will have the privilege of leading a discussion at the Connect ‘15 Conference of the Public Relations Society of America on Employee Communications. The discussion will include two great communications professionals – Tracy Pones from Rust-Oleum here in Chicago and Sheila Schooner from ASRC Energy Services in Alaska – and will focus on what companies should think about when it comes to integrating mobile technology into an internal communications program.
As someone who has been working in the public relations industry for more than 15 years, never before has such an opportunity existed for us as communicators to do our job better and easier. Certainly nothing is easy; but mobile technology and apps can allow us to accomplish our business objectives quicker and more cost effectively.
Why do I say this? Given the nature of mobile devices and technology, we now have direct access to get our messages and information directly into the hands of our targeted audiences – no matter where they are located in the world. At the end of the day, companies hire us to communicate with particular people, whether they be employees, customers, prospects, partners, etc. Up until now we have had to use other means to accomplish this core objective of our work – and this has included media relations, events, sponsorships, speaking opportunities and other creative tactics. These are all important and will continue given their effectiveness; but why not go for the jugular and deliver messages directly to the screens of the devices sitting in the pockets, purses and now, even on the wrists, of our constituents?
A key message that I hope will come across during the session (which will be streamed live– follow @APPriseMobile on Periscope and Twitter to get an alert once we go live) is that we in the communications industry now have the ability to make and implement technology decisions. In the past, we have had to rely on IT professionals to scope out and help us deploy technology solutions. However, given what is happening in the “mobile revolution,” this doesn’t have to be the case. Mobile devices and solutions for them (i.e. apps), can be cost effective and simple enough for us “lay people” to effectuate on our own in order to address the challenges we face in our work.
Indeed, Gartner predicted that by 2017, marketers would spend more on technology than IT. And this is coming true. With two years left, almost 40% of technology spending today is being directed by non-IT business unit professionals.
To be clear, I am not dismissing the importance of IT to the process of making decisions on technology in business. Rather, I believe a paradigm shift is underway whereby IT professionals should and will become our partners in identifying what solutions exist as well as the implications that will be involved in deploying them, especially with regard to security. Based on our experience at theEMPLOYEEapp over the past year, this partnership between business unit and IT professional already exists in some organizations, but not yet in all. As employee communication professionals, we therefore have a choice to make. Since no one understands the needs of our employees and the challenges we face in our work better than us, we can wait for this IT transformation to occur, or, given the simplicity and cost effectiveness of mobile technology, take matters into our own hands and control our own destiny.