Forcing employees to struggle with an office-bound unresponsive company intranet is rapidly becoming a thing of the past.
Since their appearance in mid to late 90s, organisational intranets have become a fact of life for almost all medium-to-large-scale organisations. These private networks aim to help a company increase productivity, aid company-wide collaboration and work to promote a shared corporate culture.
Once in place however, the reality often proves to be quite different.
The rapid pace of technological advancement means that intranets often become quickly outdated and prove difficult to access away from the office and challenging to navigate, becoming an obstacle rather than an aid for staff. Regularly updating these systems soon becomes a must, but this can be complex, time consuming and resource-draining.
So, what is a viable alternative, that employees will actually want to use?
One solution is to simply embrace the opportunities of modern mobile technology. Scotia Gas Networks (SGN) recently adopted an enterprise app to keep all staff regularly informed and updated. Here is their story so far…
SGN are a UK-based gas supplier that provides resources to over 5.9m homes, has more than 3,800 employees working across thirty different locations; previously relying on a company-wide intranet to keep staff engaged and informed. However, according to an internal survey, employees felt they weren’t receiving regular, meaningful communication – especially those based in the field.
Additional focus sessions reinforced this observation and showed a keenness among employees to ‘go mobile’. However, they added that the new tool had to be ‘simple to use’, provide ‘relevant and timely content’, and couldn’t simply be a case of porting the existing intranet onto an internal communications app.
After observing a successful rollout of a similar app with their majority shareholder SSE, SGN decided to specify their own customized communications app for all field-workers with smart devices. After an initial analysis, the following key drivers were agreed:
- Emphasis on cost-effective, high impact communication: The tool would be within budget and have a meaningful effect on the employee’s work by providing a dedicated channel for role-specific content.
- Ensuring fast development using SSE’s tried and tested supplier: A enterprise app development company called TheAppBuilder had previously worked with SSE to successfully roll out content and would help through every step of the process.
- Utilising real-time Google analytics for effective measurement: This would allow for information tracking and data metricisation, which would help confirm and validate how employees would use the app and how successfully it was brought in.
After a period of research, the app was focus tested, developed and internally rolled-out. Initially, the app was used to provide links to sections on employee benefits, to carry out travel requests, review office/depot locations, provide a suggestion box and allow users to access key contact numbers.
Within a week 32% of employees had downloaded the app as early-adopters with 3,200 downloads taking place within the first twenty-eight days, leading to 150,000 screen-views since launch. SGN then conducted a series of polls, where 92% of staff said that they “really liked” the app, and 64% of employees confirmed that they accessed it at least once per day. Push notifications were also sent on an average of three times a week to keep staff informed about upcoming events and data.
Management feedback was also positive, with Corporate Services Director Gary Barnes adding:
“What a great way to improve communication in our company and to give everyone an equal opportunity to get the latest news and offers at their fingertips. You must be delighted with your achievement. I must also say how impressed I was with the way it was launched.”
The communications team soon followed up with employee adopters. Feedback was overwhelmingly positive, with some citing that “it is a step in the right direction”, that “it is a simple, clear and well designed (and attractive) app that has lots of potential!”, and “it makes our rewards website really easy to access, even on weekends when I am out and about”.
This initial rollout proved so successful that SGN was able to stop updating its established intranet with internal news and shift all updates to push notifications on the new app. Even their internal newsletter moved from paper to an integrated e-document, highlighting the importance of ease-of-access for all users and ensuring that all content and information is fully up-to-date.
Building on this momentum, the app is still being evolved and enhanced by the company. In particular the social features of the app such as Likes and Comments have been particularly popular with employees and a forthcoming upgrade will build upon this success and add other innovative new features.
Through delivery of the employee app via TheAppBuilder, SGN has equipped itself with a platform that encourages innovation and clear communication among staff. One that will help achieve immediate goals, drive collaboration, and can continue to grow and change alongside the company and its people, allowing SGN to put its best foot forward into the digital age.