Mobile apps for internal communications — Trend or inevitable tech takeover?

Last week, I was able to spend a few days with some of the best communicators from across the country at Ragan’s Employee Communications, PR & Social Media Summit. While the focus of the conference was storytelling, it’s nearly impossible in 2016 to talk about storytelling and employee comms without talking about new technology.

Making your communications more human is accomplished by meeting your employees where they are, and utilizing their preferred methods of communication. Mobile as a channel for internal comms was an inevitable topic of conversation.

Although I’m not sure you could say the same thing 3 years ago, the case for mobile is convincing: 75%+ of all US adults own smartphones. This research anticipates that smartphone ownership will eclipse desktop ownership in the next 12 months.

And the average smartphone owner is checking his/her phone 85+ times each day. I think it’s safe to say that the smartphone is not a trend; mobile is eating ate the world.

Where does that leave the communicators?

We surveyed conference attendees last week (mostly internal communications professionals) to help you get a better pulse on where this industry is headed. Check out the results:

  • 55% of attendees surveyed said they were definitely considering using a mobile app for internal communications, while 36% were unsure. That means 90%+ of the people we surveyed are at least considering how mobile could help streamline their job and make sure employees feel connected and engaged through technology.
  • 45% of attendees reported having no clue about employee preferences for communications. This is the kind of statistic that makes me wrinkle my brow. How can you communicate effectively if you don’t know how your employees want to receive critical information? If a survey isn’t possible for you right now, do some research and seek the help of other companies in your industry. Your workforce is likely aligned with industry and demographic trends.
  • 60% of attendees said they were actively measuring and looking at analytics for their internal communications. Mobile + digital communication tools are empowering communicators to measure read rates and content engagement like never before. Newsletters, digital signage, and bulletin boards provide limited opportunity for measurement, but it’s no surprise that communicators are getting smarter and more effective through analytics. I think this is a number that will continue to grow rapidly as more digital tools are used for internal communications.

Survey graphics

If you’re a data nerd, we conducted a similar survey earlier this summer at the National SHRM conference, and it’s interesting to compare the results.

While we didn’t survey thousands of communicators at this Ragan event, the results provide a great snapshot to help you benchmark your own practices.

Are you considering using mobile for internal communications? If not, it’s time to start. Your millennial workforce is growing every year along with smartphone ownership and this is a movement that is here to stay.

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