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Building a digital internal communications toolbox

Every business has a unique team tackling unique challenges – but not every problem needs a unique solution. 44’s Head of Insight and Innovation, Tom Ives, explores the idea of building a digital internal communications toolbox based on the latest trends and the latest technology available.

We love bespoke solutions at 44. Nothing is more satisfying than creating something new; analysing the problem, coming up with a great idea, and delivering it in a way that makes a real difference. It’s a real thrill to do, and I’m lucky to be part of a team that have the skills and passion for this sort of work.

And while it may be controversial, I do believe that not every solution needs to start at the drawing board. In the world of digital and tech, there is a whole industry dedicated to making this sort of thing easier through new tools, platforms and approaches – and so my job is to make sure we pick the right one for the job. Here are a few that I think any IC professional should keep sharp:

Office 365

Office 365 is Microsoft’s own approach to a toolbox. It combines productivity tools like Word, Excel and PowerPoint, with connectivity tools like Outlook, Skype, Yammer and SharePoint. They are great tools (love them or hate them), but Microsoft’s real triumph here is putting all of these apps in the cloud.

Not only does working in the cloud mean that you get the latest updates automatically, but it creates that crucial extra benefit – collaboration. An Excel sheet is just an Excel sheet, until you start working on it collaboratively: adapting the figures, data and analysis in real time between teams and countries saving time, cost and the headache of version control. And that’s just Excel.

From an internal communications perspective, Office 365 can be a real powerhouse. Rather than needing to build business cases with the IT or IS department for a new platform, you can add new channels and tools from within Office 365, which colleagues will already be a part of, for easier adoption. Intranets, social, collaboration, video channels – there are plugins and approaches for nearly anything.

My favourite so far is something called Disco, a reward and recognition plugin that allows colleagues to tag messages in the chat apps with keywords like ‘inspiration’, ‘reliable’ and ‘leadership’. Disco then tots up these keywords to create a league table, so you can reward your leaders and inspirers accordingly.

Emotional Analytics

We’ve been seeing a significant trend recently, where large organisations are moving away from big annual engagement surveys to something more lightweight, regular and easy for colleagues to engage with. Instead of a single yearly download, this provides a regular temperature check and can help organisations make the most-informed decisions all year round.

Whether through software like Beehive, Adobe Analytics or by creating processes like adding smiley and frowny faces to your comms for people to click (honestly, this isn’t that bad an idea) – you can monitor the emotional drumbeat of your company and have a regular check of how people are feeling. This is called emotional analysis, and it’s something we’ll be seeing a lot more of this year.

Insight as a product

Whenever we produce something, like a magazine, an intranet or a campaign, we’re always clear that we want to measure the return on investment. Asking ourselves the question: ‘How has what we’ve done made a positive difference to that organisation?’

In my role, I have been championing insight and measurement as not just the end goal, but the whole deliverable. After all, at the most effective level our role as internal communicators is to create worthwhile change within businesses, through attitudes and behaviours.

But how do you know if it’s working? Measurement is the most scientific and empirical part of our job, and needs a creative and insightful approach to take the numbers and interpret the actual story.

The most-used tool in your toolbox should be the ruler. Applicable to all your channels, messages, events and conversations, it can record what is working and improve what isn’t – whether that’s your internal reputation or how your new company values are landing.

So let’s help you put together a live measurement dashboard using Geckoboard, a monthly Google Analytics report, or run some focus groups for your people.

After all, my old GCSE technology teacher used to say, ‘Measure twice, cut once’ and I’m proud to say that the kitchen-roll holder I made is still standing in my mum’s kitchen.

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