When we look around at the broad array of new technologies for our organizations, we often start by saying: “I need it to do _____.” And, if it does _____ then we sign up for it.
Maybe, it goes something like this: “Oh no! My doctors are texting each other and it’s not HIPAA compliant! We need HIPAA compliant texting!”
And, somewhere down the line, after responding case-by-case, need-by-need, we finally take note of the plethora of silo’d platforms and systems we are still investing in and the graveyard of those dead and gone. We wonder what happened! Each had some promise. Each did something we said we needed done!
But, hopefully, doing things isn’t what our organizations are about. We are more than an accumulation of activities and tactics. Hopefully, we are about getting stuff done. And, to get stuff done, we need strategy.
But, the organizational communication market is stuck between the current limitations of email (and faxes apparently if you are a hospital) and two types of new technology that take their queues from consumer technology more than organizational need:
First: Enterprise Social Networks (“We are like Facebook or Linked In for your company!”)
There are a couple of key problems with the social network model for strategic organizational communications, however. Because the design is modeled on social networks, these platforms quickly get overrun by those who are “social” and drive out those who hoped the tool would simply make it easier to stay informed. As a result, and because of the openness of the platforms, these networks either generate more communication noise in the workplace or are completely ignored by employees who never wanted another social network in their lives in the first place.
Second: Instant Messaging and/or Secure Texting (“The efficiency of texting but most of the messages are from coworkers!”)
These platforms are all about now. How do I get this to you now and know you received it? Clearly, there is value here. But, in our organizations, everything isn’t “now” and if it is treated as such, then nothing ends up “now.” When we talk about building culture, about operations, about company strategy, it’s critical but we don’t need a text message. When we want feedback from a group, who really wants to be bombarded by group text messages? When we have policies to read and sign, we don’t need instant messaging.
People like social media; that doesn’t mean the model is right for our organizational needs. People like instant messaging and texting; that doesn’t mean it can deliver effective communications across groups and across our company.
So, the question isn’t merely, what does it do? The question should really be: can I build a strategy on it?