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Internal Communications is more important than ever but missing a trick

If you’ve been following anything I have written in the last few months around employee experience, you’ll see that it is equally as important and indeed crucial to customer experience but often lacks attention, although that is now changing. It’s similar to enterprise software which has often lagged behind end consumer software in terms of innovation and adoption. Likewise, internal communications is a vital ingredient in employee experience but I think its been missing a trick.

Do a search on the changes internal communications need to go through in 2021 (especially in light of the pandemic) and you’ll find a lot. Everything but a focus on mobile as a channel and the changes in behaviour this has brought about. For me this is the missing trick and pretty obvious, maybe that’s why it’s being missed.

I mean a mobile first strategy for everything from product development to marketing, sales, automation and AI has been around for many years already. Why not internal communications?

A case in point is the company I work for (disclosure). At Microsoft we use Yammer and email for most companywide internal communications. With many companies with similar tools this will probably be similar.

However recently we have been experimenting with a Microsoft Teams App template called Company Communicator. Microsoft Teams does not yet have a native capability to message all Teams users unlike Yammer or with email. So this App was developed to achieve that goal.

I have written about this before and how other companies like Ernst and Young use it: Considering Microsoft Teams as a Platform – get started with App templates. Here is a super simple intro video to explain it as well.

Yammer is great as a community platform to inform and include all people but the point is that Microsoft Teams is where many people now spend most of their time.

And email has terrible read and response rates.

Company Communicator on the other hand, is mobile first in many ways.

  • It makes use of Adaptive Cards and begins the journey to much more advanced and rich content and even complex workflows, action commands and display information to users that are starting to get used to this from consumer tech (see next point). And there’s lots more coming: Five new features enhancing Adaptive Cards in Microsoft Teams.
  • It’s served in the Chat function of Microsoft Teams. Microsoft Teams is a Workplace Chat App after all and this is where enterprise collaboration technology has moved to, mirroring end consumer use of Apps like WhatsApp, WeChat, Messenger, etc. These apps are incorporating a lot more than just messaging with conversational AI, eCommerce, etc.
  • It forces brevity and focused communication instead of rambling and long emails that no one reads in an already overloaded channel that has other purposes. Of course you can point users to longer pieces, but key messaging is short and to the point. Users current attention spans love this.
  • It’s a new channel and therefore users are more open to it – as long as its not exploited.

So I’m pushing it heavily. Who knows how long it will last before it becomes available in Microsoft Teams natively. That doesn’t matter, its the behaviours and trends that do and the people working in the space cottoning onto this.

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