Technology has simplified almost every aspect of our life, from apps that deliver food to watches that track our every movement. Yet technology has not been fully embraced for internal communication in the workplace. We recently sat down with Steve Harrington, VP of Marketing at Extreme Networks, to gain insight into how he modernized internal communications for the global organization using mobile technology.
What challenges do you face as a company and as a leader running marketing and communications?
“We have a communication problem- employees aren’t reading email. They are getting bombarded with email, they’re not reading all of the fancy newsletters that marketing and HR are doing, they can’t find info on our employee intranet, yet we want our field people to be engaged and be sales enabled to go out and sell our product, as well as other employees around the globe. How do you communicate effectively with them given this barrage of emails that is just totally out of control in our workplace today.”
“As marketers, how do we reach all of these employees across the company, and then how do we get them to share some of this content within their social networks, how do we make it easy with all the content that we as marketers and other functions in the organization are creating, how do we elevate our brand through social media marketing?”
Tell us about your move to a mobile app for internal communication
“I’ve been a big adopter of mobile technologies and creating mobile apps even before they were popular, I was more of a change agent. I recognized the fact that people, particularly in a customer facing role, aren’t logging on at night and going through their email. The way to reach them and to serve up relevant content, and not only relevant but timely content, is through their mobile devices. If you’re going to be a player, if you’re going to be an innovator, and if you’re going to effectively engage and allow people to do their jobs, you have to use the devices that employees are using.”
How did you launch your app, E360?
“I engaged my senior leadership team…that was really important to set the tone and establish the sense of urgency. Before (the sales kickoff) I created content that was specifically tuned for this audience. I knew that most of the audience members had not seen any of the content marketing had produced, and we had produced some really compelling content. Then I created some fresh content just for the sales team so that I could engage with them and get them hooked at this event (the sales kickoff) so they could see the value of it.”
“When my CEO came in to the conference, I took him up to the hallway and filmed him, welcoming everyone to the sales kickoff, welcoming everyone to the E360 platform, and his expectations for people to use it. I pushed that out when we unveiled E360, which was the name of our mobile app, to the entire attendee base. It was important that they saw the fact that our CEO was engaged and the bar was raised for engagement.”
Do you still create newsletters or did you decrease your reliance on email?
“I have not done another field newsletter. Our viewership was really low. We have also completely reduced the amount of content of emails that we’re sending out. Every time we created new content we would do a blast to the field. Now we do a monthly post on E360 promoting all the new content that we created.
What are some creative ways you are using E360?
Every time we have a new employee, I bring them into the hallway, grab their manager, take a picture of them, list some cool facts, and I push that out to the company. The employees feel great, it’s timely, and you have some fun with it. Then people all over are tuned in and they’re alerted there is a new post so they go and see it. It is different than waiting a month and announcing all the employees. That just looks like a laundry list.
“This was truly built with marketers and comms people in mind that don’t have time, don’t want to learn a whole new tool, just want something that simplifies our lives.”
Can you give us insight on early learnings of E360?
“Our intranet is an absolute disaster. It’s so populated with junk, but guess what, that continues to be a portal of information. But now with E360, I can push posts out that drive people to that content. Then people can share it, like it, react to it, feel engaged with it. Feedback has been really good.”
“Our salespeople absolutely love it. I’ve had so much feedback from salespeople that they rely upon this as timely info. I have people from other groups like engineering…I’ve had so many engineers say “wow, this is so cool to see what i’ve been working on” (on E360). It makes them feel engaged and ties people together.”
To see the full conversation with Steve Harrington, watch our on-demand webinar recording.