Digital Signposts: The Ideal Communications Channel

Companies need "push" content, not just an Intranet.
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Communications consultants Sue Dewhurst and Liam Fitzpatrick from Competent Communicators recently put together a comprehensive list of communications channels that are used throughout the enterprise. The list, published by Melcrum, comprises 13 message-delivery methods ranging from team meetings to email to voicemail. Dewhurst and Fitzpatrick describe the pros and cons of each channel and provide a number of “things to think about” for each channel.

Their examination of the corporate intranet is especially interesting. The authors praise the intranet for its speed and ability to house and deliver entertaining content, and they acknowledge how Web analytics can reveal user behavior. But Dewhurst and Fitzpatrick also point out a noteworthy downside to the intranet: It relies exclusively on employees seeking out content themselves. If for whatever reason employees aren’t motivated to go looking, then the intranet lies dormant and can’t do its job. And even if employees do want information, an intranet can be difficult to navigate, and/or it might not be available to everyone in the enterprise. Dewhurst and Fitzpatrick emphasize one significant thing to think about: the need for “killer content” that draws people in and engages them.

Dewhurst and Fitzpatrick’s analysis of intranets strongly suggests that it is time to rethink the entire content “pull” idea. Having to navigate an unwieldy user interface to locate specific content takes up employees’ valuable time. At the same time, enterprises miss the opportunity to adequately highlight important, timely items and persuade users to explore further.

In contrast, the enterprise channel in the connected workplace pushes content to users anywhere, on any screen, and takes advantage of broadcast-like message delivery that gets people’s attention and is more actionable. Channel administrators can determine what content is most important for their intended viewers and can target key messages based on business and communications objectives.

Enterprise channels can also address the more traditional means of communication on Dewhurst and Fitzgerald’s list, such as print magazines, notice boards, and town halls. Content from all of those traditional channels can easily transition to digital content and find a valuable place on the enterprise channel.

The challenges around the company intranet are becoming more and more obvious, and integrators working with corporate clients need to explore viable alternatives that address communications aspirations and the needs of an evolving workplace.

Vern Freedlander is vice president of production services for Montréal-based X2O Media, a Barco company. X2O Media is a leading software developer of real-time visual communications solutions that significantly improve communications throughout the enterprise. With more than 20 years of broadcast television experience as a producer, director, and executive, Freedlander oversees all of X2O Media’s content initiatives. He can be reached at vernon.freedlander@barco.com.

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