Pros and cons of technology in internal communications

There are lots of different types of tools and channel options for internal communications. And more become available every week. As Tribe audits communications strategies, channels and approaches for our clients, we hear lots of rationale for their hesitance to embrace new technologies.

Technological advances can improve our efficiency. If used poorly, these solutions can also introduce bad habits that undermine our effectiveness. I recently finished a series of music recording sessions that got me thinking about the benefits of shunning or embracing new tools. The producer’s bare-bones studio is a testament to his old-school mentality, and the quality of the sound he generates there (his product) is pristine.

The producer, like some of Tribe’s clients, has purposefully decided not to embrace new technology because the related shortcuts can potentially undermine his approach and discipline. While I applaud the purist instinct, the lack of available technology can make the experience difficult for the musician and may keep the projects from reaching their full potential. The same can be true with internal communications.

If we can maintain the hard work and discipline that’s required to communicate effectively – or make a great record – tools and technology can get us there faster or more effectively. Looking at technology as an accelerator versus a shortcut may be a mentality that can help us avoid the poor habits. Here are a few examples of our point of view:

  • Intranets can’t solve every communications issue. True. However, a well-designed, oft-updated intranet can (and should) be the place where employees go to find the details they need to do their jobs. Today’s SaaS and mobile intranet technology have introduced many new opportunities for engaging communication.
  • Videos and leadership blogs are not a replacement for in-person communications. Also true. Face-to-face communication is always going to be the most effective way to communicate. However, when this is not possible it’s a better idea to publish timely information in interesting ways rather than allowing a communications void to exist.
  • You can’t tell the whole story on digital signage. At least you shouldn’t. But digital signage is a great way to serve up headlines that pique employee interest that can keep them engaged while directing them to the details they might need to know.
  • Collaboration tools give employees an excuse to avoid face-to-face contact. Perhaps. Again, face-to-face is almost always the best way to collaborate. But when that’s not an option – or when employees are literally all over the map – collaboration and ideation tools can allow us to accumulate ideas that we might not otherwise have access to.
  • The company app on my phone means I can never really detach from work. Mobile apps can be habit forming in good ways and bad. But for many non-desk employees, this is the only option for connecting to their company and getting access to the information they need to do their jobs and stay engaged.

Tools and channels are not the solution. But they can provide ways to solve problems more efficiently and effectively. In the music studio, it takes hard work and discipline to create a great record. Technology can allow us cover up lots of bad habits that the analog world will so cruelly expose. Internal communications is the same. Even with the best technology, it still requires discipline, creativity and hard work to be effective communicators.

Interested in exploring new ways to get more efficient with your communications? Tribe can help.

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