In 1954 management guru Peter Drucker introduced the principle of management by objectives, based on the SMART formula to set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-framed markers of business success. In the mid-1960’s, Kaplan and Norton introduced the balanced scorecard based on Drucker’s management by objectives concept, a process that became central to informing strategic direction, implementing plans and programs and measuring their impact on business.
That was then. Other than financial data, companies struggled with the tedious process of measuring the effect of strategy on business results. The marketing profession looked for aided and unaided awareness to gauge message penetration among external audiences drawing a long bow to sales. The human resources profession invested heavily in employee engagement surveys using hundreds of questions to produce an employee engagement score as an indicator of retention and cultural health. Without conducting quantitative surveys, investing in focus groups, doing readership surveys, tracking hits to intranet pages and other tedious measurement tasks, at best internal communication professionals could find only basic data to inform strategy.
Now, it’s 2017 and the age of big data, analytics and artificial intelligence is spreading like wildfire throughout the measurement functions of business. Available through intelligent programs and apps, technology delivers sophisticated, direction-informing data giving the marketing profession more decision-making firepower. Gone are the old ways of analyzing the customer through a traditional marketing funnel. The buying process is more dynamic, and consumers are changing the way they research and buy products.
Where does that leave internal communication professionals? Simply stated, without reliable information there is no way to measure the impact of communication on business results.
The Big Data Buzz
Big data sifts through information to find actionable insights, and it’s just now coming of age in the internal communication profession.
Against the backdrop of smart and getting ever smarter technology, we see significant shifts in the workplace.
The 2017 Deloitte University Press Report on Global Human Capital Trends says, “It is abundantly clear that technology is advancing at an unprecedented rate. Technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), mobile platforms, sensors, and social collaboration systems have revolutionized the way we live, work and communicate – and the pace is only accelerating.” The report says:
“Analytics is no longer about finding interesting information and flagging it for managers. Now, data are being used to understand every part of a business operation, and analytical tools are being embedded into day-to-day decision making.”
The rate companies are adopting technology at work continues to grow, and it’s only a matter of time before it is commonplace. The Tech at Work Study released by Engage for Change in June 2017 says, “Most respondents feel that the tech revolution at work is just beginning. Observers note that a new period of enlightenment will emerge, with tech creating a powerful market of ideas through cultural evolution in organisations.”
What we know:
- The workplace as we know it will be revolutionized by technology and the advent of smart mobile apps that make it easier to collect real time data that informs decision-making and strategy.
- The sophisticated analytics captured by mobile apps take the guess work out of strategic planning and provide the executive team with critical data.
We will be able to set meaningful objectives and measure the impact of our work in ways we never dreamed possible, demonstrating the power of internal communication as a critical business driver.
- Mobile apps make it easier to reach all employees, both remote and office workers through their channel of choice at a time of their choice.
The Sparrow Approach
There are a lot of employee apps on the market. Some offer basic data. Others offer a little bit more. Sparrow by DevFacto Technologies, offers more than analytics.
Consolidating all internal communication channels, Sparrow gives you the big picture – the sum total of the impact for all internal communication activities delivered through all channels other than leader communication.
- Who’s reading what (reach)
- Whether they read or skim (awareness and understanding)
- What headlines and topics draw the most attention (readership preferences)
- Likes and shares (employee advocacy)
- Communication patterns and artificial intelligence (behaviours)
Isn’t it time to take the guess work out of communication strategy by not only setting objectives based on hard data, but measuring the impact of your work every step of the way?
Internal communication just got a whole lot more strategic. Drucker, Kaplan and Norton would be proud.
This post was originally written by Claire Watson, ABC, MC.