Six highlights from #SmileLondon

November 21st, 2017

On Monday I attended #SmileLondon hosted by Simply Communicate. As always it was an event packed full of insights and valuable networking. There was a broad range of speakers and presentations from companies such as Intrateam, Crowdoscope, Bank of England, Pandora, Beezy, Pladis, Swoop Analytics, Towergate and Workplace. And of course, the discussion among delegates was just as insightful and useful.

I’ve picked out the top six things that stood out for me across the day:

The words ‘digital ninjas’ kept cropping up across several presentations. Clearly another way of describing champions, it raised some smiles in the room. But it is interesting to see how companies are trying to engage their employees through bringing more personality to their comms.

We saw other examples of this, in particular a funny video used to introduce a new platform, however what was interesting in this and other videos we saw during that day, was the lack of real employees appearing – instead stock imagery and animation ruled. It’s great to see more creative ways to engage employees, but there seemed to be a sense in the room that it shouldn’t be at the expense of authenticity – and I completely agree.

Middle manager less engaged than senior leaders
The first session from Intrateam looked at highlights from their benchmarking data around intranets and digital workplaces. I thought it was interesting that they found middle managers to be less supportive of these types of tools than senior managers, due to feeling undermined. Middle/people managers are a key audience for us in engaging employees so it’s useful to understand why they might not get on board and how we might alleviate their fears.

Another key finding, unsurprisingly, was that no one was very satisfied with their search function – a sign that maybe there isn’t enough resource and investment once a tool has been implemented.

Defining ‘Adoption’
As usual we heard a lot of stats about adoption, especially around Workplace. And considering Workplace is only a year old, the stats are impressive. But discussion in the room came back to how are we defining adoption and what does that really tell us. Knowing that X% of employees have set up accounts doesn’t demonstrate objectives have been reached, behaviours have been changed or engagement confirmed.

There were also questions around whether Workplace was being implemented, simply because people were familiar with it and companies knew take up would be high. Is that criteria enough to justify the tool? What was evident is that Workplace is showing a lot of potential and is one to keep an eye on.

Understand tools can’t do everything
I attended an interesting breakout session on how Microsoft and Workplace can work together. What was key for me was the need to acknowledge that one tool can’t do everything and what is important is understanding how they complement each other. For example, SharePoint is a document storage system, not a collaboration tool and vice versa – don’t try to make them be something they’re not. And with technology such as chatbots, soon people won’t necessarily realise they’re even using different tools.

Bots are the future
Bots have been talked about for a while now, but it’s clear that internally we’re only scratching the surface of how they can help us. I heard some good examples on how bots can be used to great effect: you could have a chatbot search for specific things that may flag a GDPR issue, ensuring it can be dealt with quickly, avoiding a fine. Another one was being able to implement an emergency procedure, so if an incident happens and you need to know if you employees are safe, it can send a message to employees asking them to check in as ok.

Chuck Gose took to the stage in the afternoon and was discussing how chatbots are more than just us giving them commands. They can talk to use too – so if you ask it for dinner recommendations, the next evening it might text you to ask you how you found the dinner and then recommend other restaurants you may want to try based on your response. Chuck believed that internal communicators could lead the way in this area for organisations – an exciting idea.

Smart ways to spend your intranet budget
Pandora gave a really interesting presentation, revealing that they spent a third of their budget on the platform, a third on marketing and a third on training. It was refreshing to hear how much investment and planning was put into training a global audience face to face – they even trained up 90 editors to help populate the tool. They believed they needed to be the ‘human face of the digital workplace’.

#SmileLondon was a jam packed day, and these are just some of the many topics that were discussed, so be sure to check out some of the other blogs that will no doubt be published over the coming days. Thanks to Simply Communicate for hosting an thought provoking event and to all the speakers and facilitators.

Categories: digitalEnterprise social networkInternal communicationSmileSocial media

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“Helen’s passion for her profession shines through very clearly and she manages to combine her deep knowledge of internal communications with a mix of pragmatism and fresh thinking. She is a delight to work with and has a high level of integrity.”

Richard Fitzmaurice, TMF Group