Employee Communications Management Platforms Can Benefit All Users
Earlier this year I wrote about a new and evolving category of workplace technologies: employee communications management platforms. Shortly thereafter, Sharon O’Dea wrote a response to my piece. In a nutshell, my argument was that employee communications management platforms are a great opportunity for the internal communications industry since they validate the importance of the internal communications function and show technology companies are now focused on helping these professionals do their jobs more effectively and efficiently.
O'Dea suggested both the technology companies and the point of my article were taking the "wrong direction." But upon reflection, I think she and I were arguing two sides of the same coin. While my focus is on how technology is evolving to help communications professionals, hers is on the ultimate experience of the end-user employee. But the question is, who is the actual end-user of the technology in the case of employee communications management platforms (ECM)? The communications professional? The employee? Both? O’Dea and I are both correct.
On the one hand, the internal communications professional who is charged with getting information to, communicating and engaging with a company’s employees is the end user. Depending on the organization, this can be a daunting task given the diversity and in many cases dispersed workforce. Employees have different functions. They work in multiple locations. Some are connected because they work in office settings and some are not because they don’t. Therefore, the way in which they consume information and the channels through which they do so is very different.
Enterprise Communications Management for the Communication Professional
This is where ECMs come into play. They provide communications professionals with a single place to publish information and content where they can then decide which channel or channels — e.g., email, intranet, digital signage, mobile employee app — to disseminate the content. Until now, communications professionals had to subscribe to disparate technology solutions to do their work across multiple channels. This required several content management systems, different logins and passwords, and a lot more budget since each system came with its own subscription price. ECMs solve this problem. Give the comms professional (and the company they work for) economies of scale to do their work in one place with a single cost. This is precisely what technology is intended to do in the digital workplace: address real business problems.
Enterprise Communications Management for the Employees
On the other hand — and to O’Dea’s point around valuing employees’ time — ECMs are incredibly valuable for the “end-user,” aka, the employee. For companies that use an ECM, their employees would have the ability to choose the channel most convenient to them to receive their information. For the truck driver or manufacturing line employee, a mobile employee app might be their preference. For a casino blackjack dealer or a hospital worker without access to a workplace computer, digital signage in a breakroom or cafeteria might be best. For an office worker who prefers email, an email newsletter solution or company intranet probably is the ideal choice. Regardless, ECMs give employees the choice. It is now up to the communications professional to create the content and communicate with the end-user employees in a compelling and interesting way.
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The Heart of Communications Work
HR industry analyst Josh Bersin recently wrote about the importance of ECMs (or what he calls "employee experience communications platforms") in the digital workplace. In it he mentions how global logistics company DHL implemented a modern employee comms and experience platform to specifically reach the company’s drivers, operators, distribution agents and professionals alike.
I mention this because I believe it demonstrates how both O’Dea and I are saying the same thing. The caliber and quality of content being created is at the heart of the work and success of communications professionals. If the content is drab, uninteresting and long-winded, it doesn’t matter what channel or technology a communicator uses to distribute that content, nor does it matter what name we give the technology solution or market.
However, both sets of end-users — communications professionals and employees — benefit from ECMs. With such a platform in place, comms pros are enabled to work more efficiently and the companies they work for save money. At the same time, employees are given access to the channels that work best for them to receive information and communications, increasing an organization’s reach, which is crucial in business today.
About the Author
Jeff Corbin has worked as a communications consultant for more than 20 years. Passionate about transforming internal communications through the use of technology, he was the founder and CEO of APPrise Mobile where he pioneered the use of mobile technology in the United States with respect to a new category of technology — employee apps.