Digital internal communications trends

The world of internal comms is constantly evolving. With a finger on the pulse and an eye on the future, here are our four top digital internal communications trends for 2020.

Predicting the future isn’t easy. Just ask Futurist Ray Kurzweil, who claimed in 1999 that, by 2020, life expectancy would rise to “over 100”, and that computers would be “largely invisible”. The truth is that the predictions that do become reality are massively outweighed by the ones that don’t.

The same could be said within our industry too. After all, trends in digital internal communications are constantly evolving.

During my first few years in internal comms, much of what we did was still print-based. However, new tech and behaviour gave us the opportunity to think about reaching people differently. After all, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to how employees should access information. This meant giving more consideration to the value and benefits of digital collaboration and designing for a mobile-first audience.

So there’s no doubt that the way we communicate has changed dramatically over the past 10 years. Take social media, a platform where the amount of users almost trebled in 10 years to 2.96 billion in 2020. That figure is projected to increase to more than 3 billion by 2021.

Changing behaviours

We’re not just talking about digitally-distracted commuters flicking through cat memes on their journey home. This mobile-first, ‘micro-moment’ behaviour is now filtering through to the workplace. For many organisations, traditional comms channels have already been joined by, or entirely superseded by, instant, interactive, two-way digital internal comms tools like social media, Yammer and Slack, or bespoke apps like Troop or Chanty.

In the first episode of our new podcast series, Beyond IC, Dr Mark Shanahan, Associate Professor in Political Communications at Reading University, discussed the benefits of social media for employees. He said: “It’s about creating the opportunities for people to share views and to feel valued because their views are not only listened to, but acted upon. If organisations can crack that in the digital age, it’ll put them ahead of the organisations which still think that social media and electronic communication is the modern equivalent of a newsletter.”

The big four digital internal communications trends of 2020

How will the changing employee engagement landscape look in 2020? Here are our digital internal comms trends for the year ahead…

  1. Targeted and personalised messaging

Social media has changed the way that we share and receive communications, and many employees expect that level of personalisation in their professional lives. This means moving away from traditional en masse communication – instead providing more control over the volume and types of messages that employees receive. We need to think about how best to work around employees’ work routines and interests, instead of overwhelming them with information.

  1. The mobile-first mentality

Mobile-first tech has radically changed the way we interact online. Millennials, as digital natives, have adopted and driven this change and, as they’re expected (another prediction!) to make up more than 75% of the global workforce by 2025, surely digital internal communications need to shift that way too?

Adopting a ‘mobile-first’ mentality will allow organisations to use mobile collaboration to get the most out of their workforce – especially frontline employees. It allows employees to talk to each other more efficiently, promotes working together and can increase productivity. A study by Frost & Sullivan said that using portable devices for work tasks saves employees 58 minutes per day while increasing productivity by 34%.

Our suggestion: If you don’t have a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy in your organisation (and, of course, if it’s permitted), it may be time you had one. Policy needs to lead behaviour.

  1. Data and measuring impact

The use of big data can give companies better insight into the behaviour of the digital internal communications that they share with colleagues. It can help you discover the preferred methods of communication; time spent on a page; click-throughs, downloads and more specific visitor behaviour. Together it can help plan your communications and ultimately improve engagement going forward. Finding ways to measure your internal comms can help you increase efficiency and better understand employee interests.

If you watched the recent Royal Institute Christmas Lectures, you’ll have seen that Liverpool Football Club is using data to understand how the behaviours of players on the pitch affect the team’s goal probability as players position themselves on the pitch. The club hired Ian Graham; who has a PhD in Physics from Cambridge University, to collate data analysis from the decisions the club makes, from the corporate to the tactical, to gain a competitive edge over its rivals. And after winning the Champions League last year and now on the cusp of the Premier League title, the club is reaping the rewards of using data and analysis.

  1. The importance of a ‘digital workplace’

Creating a digital workplace can be an excellent prerequisite to success. The concept is particularly pertinent for workforces who may be spread far and wide, and away from physical office space. This is why it’s so important to give colleagues the ‘head office’ experience, offering the same branding, content and collaboration when they’re working remotely. This’ll drive pride and engagement, making them feel part of the business – even when they’re away from the business.

Last year the London Borough of Hackney created a collaborative digital workplace for its 3,500 colleagues. The system provided a consistent user experience across mobile and desktop and new opportunities to collaborate across its social tools. There was also an emphasis on people, rather than technology, which offers a more intuitive way of working that was less like information and more like conversation.

So what did you think of our digital internal communications trends for 2020? If you’re interested in establishing some new comms trends for your business in 2020, get in touch!