Being Mobile: Tech for the Non-Desk Set

March 18, 2014by Dave StawinskiTechnology & Platforms

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If you’ve been reading our blog, you know we are convinced that social and mobile tools are helpful engagement tools. They enhance your ability to express recognition for high performance employees. They help you create awareness for new initiatives. They create a sense of transparency between the field and the home office that is vital to a feeling of true communication in the “always-on” age we live in.

If this is all true for the employees you have at home base, it is also true for those you have in the field, with the additional factor that the field employee’s remoteness can add even more value to new lines of communication.

For the sake of this post, let’s assume you are interested in adding some mobile capability to your field-facing comms. (If you are not, please keep reading anyway.)

Channels to Consider

  • Native mobile applications: are generally developed for you by an agency like Vignette to meet a specific set of requirements. They feature strong branding capability since they are custom-made software. You trade the “sky’s-the-limit” creative support for complexity: Native apps are platform-specific. You will need to create, distribute, and support an app for each type of device your users need. iPhones, Android Phones and others are all separate. It can be a bit more expensive depending on the number of devices you must support.
  • Mobile web applications: run in the device’s mobile web browser. They are essentially websites that are optimized for your mobile users in terms of their feature set. For example, the ability to look up and call a sales contact, with cross-referenced with qualifying data, makes a lot of sense on a smartphone, but might have no place on the desktop.  Every organization has different needs in terms of requirements, and we can help you figure it all out. Mobile websites are usually a little more bare-bones in terms of creative branding, but they can still look awesome. We help with that, too. Their main benefit it that one mobile website will work on all devices, saving you some budget.
  • 3rd party applications: can be either native or mobile websites. If you are just getting your feet wet with mobile (maybe your IT group is adding support for a rollout of company-provided smartphones?), then this can be a great way to start. We can help determine your business requirements and select an array of ready-made tools to meet them. For example, maybe just adding mobile email access and mobile support for your Enterprise Social Network is a good start for you. Start there, and then measure what happens to help plan the next move.

In a future post I’ll look at these channels in more detail. For now, here are some of the ways you can use these capabilities to extend your reach to the field.

The interactive nature of mobile applications means they create two-way communications. We at Vignette are big believers in listening as well as speaking to employees. We know they can teach us as much as we can teach them. So, as you roll out mobile IC tools, be ready to manage this relationship. We suggest a strategy that supports three types of communications: ongoing, campaign-based, and event-based.

Getting Started: A Three-Pronged Approach

Long-term Business Needs

Ongoing comms are generally focused on the sustainment of long-term business needs, and the maintenance of your culture. Does your organization have a blog, an online forum or an Enterprise Social Network like Yammer or Jive? All of those can be mobile enabled (in some cases for “free”) to provide you with an always-on channel. Your people will still consume information in the non-mobile channels, but watch for mobile to become their go-to for timely updates, urgent matters and data support.

Campaign Based Communication

To bring mobile to bear on your Campaign-based comms, take advantage of the incentives, recognition and timely delivery of information that it gives you. Sales competitions, new policy rollouts, support for all manner of marketing initiatives, and the list goes on. We’ve seen mobile used to run the rollout of a pop-up shop and to drive sales with tools to maximize the relevance of a product to a given customer.

Event Based Communication

Event-based comms that cover the spectrum of pre-event, on-site support and post-event cascade can be nicely enabled with mobile.  The away-from-home nature of events like annual conferences mean attendees are already depending on their devices. It’s just another step to get in from of them with event-based tools and comms. We have seen clients deploy special apps to bring the timeliness and pocket-sized interactivity of mobile to event attendees.  Help with travel and wayfinding, scheduling of content, thoughtful analysis, and engaging extras are all part of what we see, increasingly, as expected mobile features of a well-done event.  We can help you integrate mobile and be an innovator there.

How have you used mobile to keep your field people humming? Sound off on our (mobile-enabled) comments section, below…

Dave Stawinski

With nearly 20 years of production experience working for leading digital agencies such as DNA Studios, BLITZ and Second Story, Dave has managed a large number of diverse projects and teams. Over the years he has managed important projects for clients like LOFT, Nike, Johnson & Johnson, Coca-Cola, General Motors, Honda, Anheuser-Busch, Sony Pictures, Disney, Microsoft, HP, the Library of Congress and others.