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Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Mobile Intranets

Read this article in German.

Do you feel like you’ve heard the term “mobile intranet” thousands of times without knowing what it really means? No problem! We will transform your sketchy knowledge into genuine expertise, not only telling you about the reasons for introducing a social intranet, but also how your blue-collar workers are affected and what we mean by “employee apps” (and why WhatsApp is no such app). Ready? Then let’s get started!

Contents


What Is a Mobile Intranet Exactly? 

First things first: many companies have had a top-down intranet since time immemorial. Here, information is published by the employer, meaning that employees are able to “consume” the internal communication but are unable to communicate or interact themselves. This prehistoric type of intranet has been rendered obsolete – by social intranets.

Here, the focus is on collaboration and active knowledge sharing.
Other important aspects are interaction and interconnectivity (including across locations): users and departments can publish content independently – and colleagues can react (e.g. with comments or emojis).

A social intranet also includes wikis, forums, and blogs. Given the huge rise in the use of mobile devices, such as tablets and smartphones, this form of internal communication is also becoming ever more important. Phones allow a social intranet to become a mobile intranet. As a result, all employees conveniently receive all information – from shift plans to an invitation to the summer party – as push notifications on their smartphone. A mobile intranet is a great way of accessing information more quickly and networking with coworkers, especially for employees without day-to-day access to a computer.

A welcome side effect of improved integration in internal communication is increased productivity.

The Main Reasons in Favor of a Mobile Intranet

Are you still considering whether a mobile intranet is the right solution for your company? We have summarized the seven main reasons for you.

It Reaches All Employees

Your internal communication should reach everyone – and not just employees working on a computer. But how can you reach blue-collar workers such as sales assistants, nurses, servers, and delivery staff, who only have restricted access to a PC (or no access at all)? Thanks to a mobile intranet, these employees can access the system whenever and wherever using their smartphones – just as their colleagues do from their desktops. All employees find out about the latest news simultaneously, can make contact with each other, and feel included in internal communication, wherever they happen to be.

A Mobile Intranet Saves Time and Money

The question of cost, of course, plays a central role when purchasing a mobile intranet solution. But in fact, the costs are often lower than you think. On average, the cost of the software per employee, per month, works out about the same as a coffee – while also saving time and money. Thanks to the mobile intranet, employees are considerably more productive and have to attend fewer time-consuming and costly meetings. The benefit of a mobile intranet: anything can be discussed whenever and wherever.

The hardware procurement costs represent another key factor. The “bring-your-own-device” model is particularly popular. In other words, employees use their own smartphones. Procurement costs? None. Training period? Minimal. User error? Very rare.

Employer Branding: Staff Who Want to Stay

In eventful times like these, firms are very keen to generate employee loyalty. Employer branding is the name of the game. A mobile intranet fosters communication with and within the company and creates a huge sense of belonging. Alongside enhanced internal communication and the ability to contribute new ideas in a straightforward manner, a mobile intranet also offers new kinds of corporate transparency. Declining staff turnover is a valuable bonus that polishes the image of any company. What’s more, employee motivation benefits from the introduction of a mobile intranet. After all, employees will only make an active contribution if they feel involved.

Rising Productivity!

We’ve all been there: you’re standing in the elevator – so you check your phone. You’re waiting for the bus – out comes your smartphone. You’re sitting in the dentist’s waiting room – and you reach for your phone. This is automatically how we try and pass the time, so why not use this time productively? All it takes is a tap on the mobile intranet app to turn this “dead” time into working time. It’s suddenly possible to check the current project status, answer a colleague’s question, or comment on an employee’s new profile picture – whenever and wherever.

Push Notifications: Never Miss a Thing!

To ensure that nothing is ever left unread – whether the latest news, important tasks, or new developments – employees are informed anytime, anywhere, by means of push notifications on their mobile device. Each employee can adjust their settings to control when and how they receive push notifications. Btw: the younger the generation, the less they like e-mail. Therefore, it is much easier to connect with young talents via app than via email. Long live the push notification! 

Data Protection? Yes, Please.

Does your company communicate using WhatsApp? Or maybe Facebook Messenger? Beware. These tools not only represent an organizational problem, but they do not comply with data protection laws either. WhatsApp can even end up costing a fortune – read our blog article “Six Reasons Why Companies Should Not Use WhatsApp Internally.” to find out why. Whether arranging customer meetings via WhatsApp or letting a sick coworker know the latest project status via Facebook Messenger, the use of these shadow IT systems is beyond all control and virtually always breaches applicable data protection rules and legislation. It’s much simpler with a mobile intranet, which enables communication via an intuitive and protected messaging service.

Faster and More Effective – Making Company Communication Fun

Around 70% of the population owned at least one smartphone in 2018. A figure that keeps on rising. Whether accessing social networks, news apps, or e-learning programs, people are increasingly using cell phones as their sole communication device. But while completely normal in our private lives, this trend is still in its infancy at many companies. Alongside more interactivity and transparency, a mobile intranet also offers other benefits

Why Companies Shouldn’t Use WhatsApp

So you’ve decided that you do need an employee app. You’re now looking for the right provider, and a colleague suggests WhatsApp. Their arguments: the app is free and pretty much everyone already has it on their phone. Sounds good, right? We have put together a six-point list explaining why WhatsApp is not suitable for internal use and showing the risks it harbors.

Uninterruptible Desktop Version

In order to use the desktop version of WhatsApp, your smartphone has to be permanently connected. This is impractical and problematic for devices with weak batteries.

Data Protection: Threat of Cease-and-Desist Letters!

By signing up to the terms and conditions, you grant WhatsApp access to your phone book. The company then takes any data that it can find, including from those who don’t even use WhatsApp. When you confirm the terms and conditions, however, WhatsApp passes all responsibility on to you, putting you at risk of incurring heavy fines. For details about whether there is a way around the problem and further legal information, see our blog.

Synchronization? Impossible.

Do you want to set up a chat group for 411 production staff? Then let’s hope the rest of your day is pretty quiet, as every single employee has to be added individually. What’s more, any new or departing coworkers also have to be added or removed manually. In larger firms, this process becomes extremely time-consuming.

A Lack of Support

Is WhatsApp down or do you keep getting the same error message? Sorry, you’ll just have to hope that it sorts itself out. Whereas a professional social intranet provider is always on hand with help and support, don’t expect any assistance from WhatsApp. You’ll find another example of what WhatsApp is unable to offer in section six of our blog, Six Reasons Why Companies Should Not Use WhatsApp Internally.” 

“Sorry, I’m a Private User”

WhatsApp is firmly established as a private communication tool, where we don’t have to abide by internal company guidelines. It’s then very difficult indeed to start laying down rules.

WhatsApp Doesn’t Like to Share

Even though many firms use file-sharing solutions such as SharePoint, these systems are not supported by WhatsApp. As colleagues often send documents to each other, it is essential that an internal communication tool lets them do so.

Read our blog for our final verdict on WhatsApp as an employee app.

How All Employees Can Be Involved – and How This Will Boost Your Revenue

Many companies face a big problem: their internal communication never reaches their entire workforce, but only those employees who actually sit at a computer. While office workers can easily keep up to date with the latest events, their colleagues without access to a PC have to look out for news items on the bulletin board. They are often informed much later (or sometimes not at all). And this has consequences: your blue-collar employees feel unappreciated and lose all motivation. It’s now time to find out how you can solve the problem with a mobile intranet solution, what the benefits are for the workforce and the company as a whole, and why the issue also has financial implications.

Internal Communication? Doesn’t Get to Me.

Servers, nurses, skilled technicians, delivery personnel ... they all have something in common: they are deskless workers, which makes it hard for internal communication to reach them. Eventually, they lose their sense of belonging and motivation. Instead of contributing knowledge and ideas and making the entire company more productive, they just do what they have to do before clocking off. Day in, day out. A sense of resentment often builds up between them and the company’s white-collar workers, as the blue-collar workers feel less valued. Efficient working becomes difficult. Therefore, there has to be a way to include blue- and white-collar staff in internal communication simultaneously. The optimum solution to your problem? A mobile social intranet.

Two Solutions, Seamless Communication

A mobile intranet lets you connect with deskless employees and desktop users at the same time. All employees who work at a computer on a daily basis will be reached via the social intranet, whereas all blue-collar workers can keep effortlessly up to date via their smartphone. The key term: “bring your own device.” A study also showed that employees are up to 30% more efficient when they frequently use social collaboration tools. More details can be found in our blog article “How to Involve Production Staff More Effectively – and Boost Revenue. 

What Are the Benefits of a Mobile Intranet for a Company?

First and foremost, the use of a mobile intranet improves collaboration between various departments, teams, and hierarchical levels, with optimized processes also boosting employee motivation. This increase in employee satisfaction also pushes up enterprise value and has a positive impact on revenue. An especially important factor concerning the integration of blue-collar workers in internal communication is that specialist knowledge can be shared more efficiently, problems identified more quickly, and lasting improvements made to production processes. Cross-locational processes are accelerated, problems solved, and innovative thinking fostered.

You still can’t quite see how a mobile intranet could be used at your company? Then read the example in our blog

How Do Your Employees Benefit from a Mobile Intranet?

It’s not just the company that benefits from a mobile intranet, but also the employees themselves. They can communicate with coworkers, teams, and other departments in real time, organize shift plans much more easily, and set up private groups (e.g. for shared interests). They will see the very latest company news in their time line, receive invitations to events, and will find the right contact person for their questions and problems thanks to the search function.

In short, a mobile intranet is the perfect tool for connecting all employees and properly involving each and every member of staff. Everyone is reached at the same time, regardless of when and where they work.

Six Tips on How to Find the Perfect Mobile Intranet for Your Company

Are you ready for a mobile social intranet and are now looking for suitable providers? Excellent. But you should always bear in mind that not every employee app is a good fit for your company. In order to find the perfect tool, several aspects need to be taken into consideration before and during the introduction of a mobile intranet. We have put together a list of the most important strategic factors and the most relevant features for you.

1. Mobile Intranets: Keep It Simple!

While the desktop version can store everything from the house rules through to the documentation for ancient projects, “less is more” often represents a better approach when it comes to mobile intranets. In order to identify your needs, you should consider what functions and information you want to be able to access from mobile devices. Always remember that your mobile social intranet should be intuitive and user-friendly and that not every single function is really necessary. 

2. Involve Your Coworkers

It is imperative to involve employees in the process surrounding the new social intranet, whether desktop-based or mobile. Why? Your colleagues know exactly what features they need – as well as how, when, and where they need them – and you increase loyalty to the company by asking them about their needs. Our tip: get feedback prior to the launch of a social intranet (and after!) and respond to it. Questions that you may find useful in this regard can be found in our blog article “Six Tips for a Better Mobile Intranet.”

3. Long Live User-Friendliness!

It’s vital that your employees love your mobile intranet! That’s why the design, structure, and user navigation should be intuitive, clear, and easy to understand. Our blog has more information about minor, easy-to-avoid mistakes. An important feature of a mobile intranet is a good search function (especially for people) and concise amounts of text. What’s more, a harmonious visual appearance offers strong points of identification.

4. And What Software Is Right for Me?

Yep, that’s the million dollar question. When choosing the right software, you should select a program that offers both a good desktop version and a coherent mobile intranet version. Two separate solutions often result in teething troubles such as synchronization problems, reachability difficulties, and issues with locating data. Your software should also boast quick load times, prioritize legally compliant data protection, and be easy to use (eliminating the need to organize costly training sessions). Another sign of good social intranet software is a well-planned “onboarding” process. More details can be found under item five of our blog.

5. Make Sure People Use It!

Another important aspect is to promote user acceptance of the mobile intranet with targeted measures, as it is only as good as the percentage of people who use it. Fortunately, you can develop use cases yourself in order to boost user acceptance. Our tip: including the most important applications and information in the mobile intranet itself is a particularly useful approach. As such, there is always a reason to log in to the mobile social intranet. Thanks to push notifications, you can send important news at any time. You will find more ideas about what your colleagues may need from their social intranet under item 4
of our blog.

6. Take Your Time

You should allow ample time to find the right mobile intranet solution for your company. Consider your strategic needs, get your employees on board, and carefully analyze the feedback. This will allow you, for instance, to quickly identify any problems surrounding user acceptance (“I don’t want to give up my old communication habits”) and search for a solution. Switching to a mobile intranet takes time and dedication – but the rewards are worth it.

comprehensive conclusion can be found in our blog “Six Tips for a Better Mobile Intranet.”

Is an Employee App Really the Digital Answer to all Your Internal Communication Challenges?

Your company is looking to modernize and wants a straightforward solution that lets it move seamlessly into the digital age. Your initial research tells you that the market is extremely complex and that it isn’t easy to get a clear picture. How should you go about finding the right tool for your company?

Before things really get started in earnest, you should ask your colleagues about their wants and needs in terms of their new communication tool. Your research will then show you that most tools offer similar approaches and features – but all with a slightly different focus. One of these areas of focus is the topic of “mobility.” So if you haven’t done so already, you will now be forced to consider a mobile intranet and employee apps.

Quick Question: What Actually Are Employee Apps?

An employee app is a medium that makes it possible to collate information from other systems in a collective and intuitive way. It seeks to reach all employees, from field sales staff through to production managers. Employee apps can be seamlessly added to your existing systems, and most employees are already well versed in the use of mobile apps. The high usability of the tool is another aspect that facilitates the launch of an employee app, which – thanks to its streamlined functionality – offers enough features without overwhelming the user. Corporate identity can also be built into the app, fostering the corporate culture and promoting professionalism. 

Sounds great, right? So why isn’t an employee app the silver bullet that every company is looking for?

There is a big difficulty: the day-to-day desk workers (white collar) and the employees without access to a PC (blue collar) must be considered as a whole in terms of internal communication. The solution seems so easy: white- and blue-collar workers need a shared employee app

Problem 1: 
T
he strategy requires a “bring-your-own-device policy.”

Problem 2: 
W
hile half of all employees will use the new tool daily, the other half will only use it every two weeks. What’s more, some will use the desktop version rather than the mobile version, as it can be incorporated more easily into their digital workstation.

Problem 3: 
D
ifferent usage habits give rise to different use cases. Desktop users need more functions, meaning that the intranet suddenly shows more company information that cannot be displayed on an employee app. As a result, the employees working at PCs have much more information at their fingertips, driving a wedge between colleagues.

Our tip: our blog has more details about the functions popular with both white- and blue-collar users.

 

These problems result in two separate domains for employees, with one group working in an extensive desktop domain and the other group occasionally logging in to their mobile app domain. Administrators now have to split the information between two tools; otherwise, fifty percent of employees only have limited access. The fact is that using two systems for the same purpose is extremely inefficient in the long term.

When it comes to communicating between locations, there has to be a central platform. This platform (commonly referred to as an “intranet”) offers all information, boosts networking between colleagues, and serves as a springboard for other collaborative systems. The range of features is limited on smartphones and similar devices, but can be expanded for desktop use while still using the same platform. Consequently, it can also be regarded as a “front-door intranet” to the (digital) workplace of all employees. However, a front-door intranet does not happen overnight.

In other words, there is no silver bullet. 

However, topics such as employee engagement, user acceptance, and transparent change management are key factors underpinning a successful communication strategy. Implementing a mobile social intranet as a digital home is the first step to establishing successful corporate communication. After all, it is always more profitable to invest in a revolutionary vision than in short-term improvements.

Picture of • Melanie Mader •
AUTHOR

• Melanie Mader •

Our online editor Melanie writes about everything that matters in the COYO blog. Thematically flexible, she tells you about the latest developments and always reveals useful tips and tricks.

PUBLISHED ON

22.03.2019