by J. Heath Shatouhy | February 11, 2016

Three Themes from the Latest ALI Strategic Internal Communications Conference

Internal communications tools that are used in the workplace.

In late January our team attended our second Advanced Learning Institute’s Strategic Internal Communications conference in San Francisco. For any corporate or internal communications professional (or even HR) we highly recommend these events (and others like them) as the quality of focused conversation both during the scheduled sessions as well as the more informal networking is top-notch. At this event, a few key themes resonated during the conference:

A ‘consumer-like’ experience should exist within the tools that employers use to communicate with their employees.

Everyone at the event was using some form of digital internal communications tool(s) whether it was as simple as email or more ‘complex’ like an intranet or social collaboration solution. The challenge discussed was how to make these tools more engaging and ‘consumer-like’ so that employees actually want to use them and can do so easily (particularly through the mobile device). Far too often IT teams take control of internal communications tools.  While they may consult with or be assigned to work with communications departments, as tech professionals, they don’t necessarily understand the business challenges that communications professionals face in their work.  As a result, the user experience of the tools selected by IT can be difficult to administer or use. Our take-away: the communications professionals should have a greater voice in determining which internal communications tools are most appropriate for a company’s employees.

The SharePoint behemoth isn’t going away…so, what do we do?

When attendees at the event were asked, “which of your companies uses SharePoint?” nearly everyone in the audience (begrudgingly) raised their hand. The sad fact of the matter is that over the past decades, Microsoft’s SharePoint has become the de facto intranet solution for most organizations.  Given the vastness of what is included in most companies’ systems as well as the millions of dollars that have been spent over the years, IT departments have been very reluctant to upgrade or make a change from SharePoint.  Apropos to theme #1 above, the user experience of most companies’ SharePoint sites is miserable even in a desktop environment, let alone mobile.  Again, as communications professionals, we can unwillingly defer to IT or take control of communications technology solutions.  The good news is that solutions like theEMPLOYEEapp are now available to allow you to do so.

Communications and HR Professionals are working together more often to create a comprehensive communications strategy.

As communicators our goal is to get our key messaging into the hands of all of our employees, regardless of the communications style or delivery mechanism. HR professionals have an equally important job of getting critical employee related information into the hands of all members of their workforce. To the extent communications transcends both business functions, shouldn’t the two work hand-in-hand?  In some organizations this is already taking place (e.g. Northwell Health – the largest private company in New York State).  This should become more commonplace as the two more frequently work together to better strategize and execute on an organization’s overall communications plan.

There are numerous communications solutions available in the market today that can help companies accomplish their communications objectives.  Several of them were discussed in San Francisco.  Notwithstanding this, there is a need to cut through the clutter to ensure that the appropriate solution or solutions are implemented.  To facilitate this, we at APPrise Mobile created The Communications Professional: Guide to Mobile Solutions and Services. Feel free to download it for a single and straightforward resource that explains the various options available as well as the cost to implement.

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