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Tech Adoption Top of Mind at Smile London

3 minute read

Earlier this week, the UK’s brightest minds in internal communications, HR and company culture headed to central London for the 2019 edition of the smileexpo, run by Simply Communicate.

Sessions and workshops covered an array of subjects—from workplace culture to trends in video communications—but the question of adoption dominated and came up in every session and case study.

The message was consistent; that internal comms, marketers and workplace culture experts all understood that technology is key to enabling, improving and scaling a winning company culture of engagement and vibrant communication. However, tooling alone isn’t enough. Therefore, the conversation has turned to how to make internal communications tools ‘sticky.

speakap stand smile expo

Campaign to Stay Sticky

“We drove initial adoption by running internal campaigns,” explained Melinda Schaller, the global communications manager for agriculture giant Syngenta, which has a highly decentralized workforce dispersed across the planet.

“We’ve continued to run campaigns to build momentum and get employees joining our internal platform. We actively monitor figures such as engagement. When engagement falls, we’ll jump in and look at what we can do to increase conversations again.”

Why is engagement on social channels so important to Syngenta?

“We’re an R&D company and we acknowledge that collaboration is the mother of innovation.”

Vacherin, a London-based contract caterer, took a similar campaign-driven approach. “We knew we needed buy-in from our staff so, when we launched, we had a big build up with lots of content already on VachChat [Vacherin’s own branded Speakap platform]. We then went from site to site, helping employees to download the app and posting images of the teams who’d signed up on VachChat itself,” said Vacherin commercial director, Zoe Watts.

Transformation Can Be Scary

SGN manages the network of gas pipes that deliver gas to homes across large sections of England and Scotland. Employees are often on the road or in the field, and many managers started with employees as apprentices a decade or two ago.

“Overcoming the fear of change is perhaps the biggest hurdle. When you have employees, managers even, who’ve been with you for 15 – 20 years, you need to find a way to engage those employees first,” said SGN digital manager, Jenny Naif. “But communications platforms also need to appeal to millennials and Gen Z.”

SGN learned that they couldn’t just put a channel out there and expect it to live, so they focused on active community management and creating a network of ‘“champions” throughout the business to grow adoption.

guy smile expo

Triumph Through Technology

“Traditionally, we had first-line workers at the sharp end of the business and information workers sat in the office at the other. The rise in remote employees has blurred those lines,” said Dave Bowman of internal comms consultancy, Content and Code.

If the user profile is getting more complicated, the brief is getting simpler. “Crap technology is demotivating. Old apps and systems that get in the way reduce adoption.”

What does good technology look like? Dominic Shillingford of LumApps clarified:

“You have to have access on the go. Desktop isn’t enough, and mobile apps must be for iOS and Android. You need a modern and attractive digital workplace that is easily customizable. To ensure adoption and usage, it needs to be personalized, hyper-personalized even, and relevant to each employee.


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Matt is an experienced journalist-turned-content marketer who writes about all things tech, SAAS and B2B.

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