We asked you for your predictions for IC for the coming year and were not disappointed: the rise and fall of chatbots, more UGC and personalised content, blurring the external/internal lines, digital work, leadership transparency, content automation and intelligent voice activation – whatever that is…
I predict that in 2018 we will see an increasing number of IC teams abandoning (or at least relegating) their intranet CMS in favour of a mobile-first solution. So rather than designmobile-friendly intranets and publishing links on ESNs etc. , they will publish directly in Workplace, SocialChorus and other employee apps.
I also predict that in 2019 people will realise it was a mistake and there’ll be a swing to ‘headless’ CMS where content is centrally managed and published in multiple places. But I’m keeping that a a secret until you ask this time next year…..
Oh yeah, and Chatbots, everywhere. Followed by abandoned chatbots in 67% of cases.
I predict (or hope, anyway) that organisations will start waking up to the fact that user-centered content matters for internal communications as well as external communications. Employees, especially in large and/or distributed organisations, don’t know the corporate jargon and acronyms, they don’t always know the organisation’s hierarchy, and they don’t have time to do extensive research. Good content increases productivity and improves employee satisfaction, and also increases usage of corporate programs.
I predict that IC will increasingly look at personalisation to enhance the impact, relevancy and employee experience of communications within the digital workplace. However, a lot boils down to good data – the more accurate the data and the more detailed it is in terms of both segmentation and behaviour, the better the potential for personalisation. As bad data can destroy good intentions with effective digital communications, I forsee both time and money being spent by organisations in 2018 getting their data house in order .
Maybe the arrival of GDPR in 2018 is just what IC teams need – the need to be transparent and to have consent could be seen as an opportunity to ask employees to review the data held on them, to verify it and ensure they are receiving what they need to know.
I predict a continuous rise of ESNs as companies strive to cultivate and facilitate collaboration, knowledge sharing and communication in a seamless manner. McKinsey Global predicts that about 70% of businesses will adopt ESNs by the end of this year. I also predict a deeper and better alignment between internal and external communication which will strengthen the function in general and the combined capabilities will make communicators more valued as strategic and trusted advisors.
How we work and how we manage communication will continue to converge. I predict we will continue to tease out what we mean by ‘digital work’, trying to find a more structured approach and purpose to putting team space and social media to work inside our companies.
I predict a rise of the ‘transparent optimist leader’ (ably assisted by IC pros). With lots of doom and gloom around, senior leaders will need to focus upon creating informed employee voice – which starts with conversing openly and giving a fairer appraisal of situations. I (optimistically) predict an upsurge of phrases such as ‘Help us to…’, ‘Your input will…’ and ‘As you’re the subject matter expert…’.
We all have heard the predictions of how more automation is going to impact the workplace, replacing menial jobs and putting accountants and solicitors out of business. But what will the effect of automation be on IC? Will we see robots reporting the latest corporate news, parsing external press releases to make them suitable for internal consumption? I hope not. In fact, I think that automation will have one huge advantage for anyone who is responsible for overhauling the company intranet.
One of the hardest parts of any new ESN is doing the content migration from the old intranet to the new one. We have seen at least one intranet project fail last year because the content was just ‘lifted and shifted’ without the requisite tagging and culling. If you just pour your old articles, documents and files from SharePoint 2007 into your new personalised, user-centric social intranet, the search will be just as bad – or even worse – as it was in the old one.
I predict that in 2018 we will see the development of new automation tools to crawl your old content, delete duplications, update to the latest version and tag the contents. You will still need to check the more complicated clashes, but instead of trawling through 20,000 documents (or trying to convince your colleagues to do so) an automated process using machine learning will do 90% of the work for you. Which means that your new ESN will have a search function that actually works.
our 6am alarm goes off and you roll over and ask what your day is looking like. Your assistant immediately reels off your scheduled meetings.
As you’re getting dressed your mind strays to the office and a big product launch you’re working on, you wonder what lessons your colleagues in Asia learnt following a similar launch. You ask your assistant who is responsible for marketing in APAC and schedule a meeting with them.
While driving to work you ask your assistant for the latest world news and company headlines. You then listen to the recent CEO townhall for the rest of the commute.
This isn’t some far fetched utopian vision of the future of work in 20 years and also not an example of an overbearing personal assistant following you around, instead it’s something that is playing out right now through voice artificial intelligence (AI), and it’s something that communicators will start to see a lot more of in their organisations in 2018.
By voice AI we mean intelligent personal assistants like Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Microsoft Cortana and Apple’s Siri, which will be spruced up from the iPhone version for its debut on the Apple HomePod smart speaker set to launch later this year. Voice AI has crept into homes at a staggering rate since its emergence a few years ago.
The most dominant player in this space is Amazon. Analysts estimate that 33 million Alexa devices were sold in 2017, up from 4 million in 2016. Amazon’s dominance in the home is also looking set to translate to the workplace.
Right now a lot of people use the functionality of Alexa and Google Home to listen to music, set timers and get news updates, but use cases for these devices are evolving rapidly with skills being added continually and BMW, Mercedes Benz, Hyundai and Ford all planning to integrate Alexa into their vehicles in 2018.
The biggest reason that voice AI will be coming to a workplace near you soon is Alexa for Business, which was announced last November. Amazon have ported all the functionality that made the Echo and their other Alexa devices such a hit in the home to the enterprise, adding additional security and allowing companies to develop closed skills only available to company employees.
The initial focus for Alexa for Business is on the practical side, i.e. conference room enquiries, finding out status of IT support tickets and an easy way for colleagues to reorder office supplies when for example standing at a printer that’s out of paper.
However there‘s another side to voice in the enterprise: its potential to become a new and effective channel within organisations to reach and engage employees, used for everything from training (no more point and click), to reaching the deskless workforce, to getting employees quick answers to questions and saving them time.
Companies will find that it is surprisingly quick and easy to develop skills on the Alexa for Business Platform for just about any use case that can be imagined.
We think that 2018 will be the year when companies start exploring this exciting area and realising they need a voice strategy and plan of action to tackle voice, both externally and internally.