A text message can get to an employee’s phone in an instant, but the process of developing a plan to send such messages internally can be a slow and lumbering one.
At least, that would seem to be the case as shown in the results of a recent Ragan.com LinkedIn poll. Among 165 respondents, nearly half said they either simply haven’t started thinking about a mobile strategy (31 percent), don’t feel mobile applies to them (12 percent) or are dealing with an IT department that is “firmly opposed to mobile access” (5 percent).
A little more than one-fourth of the respondents (28 percent) said their companies are in the process of developing a mobile strategy. Only 24 percent said they have a strategy up and running.
So what’s the holdup? If it isn’t IT opposition, what’s keeping communicators from getting started on mobile?
For some, they just don’t know enough about it yet. Lonya French, a communications consultant at Pitney Bowes, for example, commented that she’d love to learn more about using text messaging to communicate with employees and asked for thoughts on how to do it securely.
Likewise, Erin Kennedy, senior communications specialist at Community Medical Centers in Fresno, Calif., acknowledged how useful it would be to send messages to doctors who rarely check their email but all carry phones. Still, she said her organization hasn’t started thinking about mobile yet.
Security is clearly a concern, but Gordon Plutsky, a blogger for KingFish Media, offers another guess. Often, he writes, mobile websites and applications “shortchange the corporate user in terms of the content, functionality and overall user experience.” Essentially, it’s hard to cram an entire intranet designed for use on a PC into a mobile phone.
It’ll take companies working with software developers to build apps customized to their intranets—a potentially costly proposition—to make mobile intranets have real value, he posits.
One potential issue with sending mass texts to employees is the potential for them to see it as an invasion of their privacy, says Chris Heuwetter, president of TwiloPR. “People still feel that’s a very personal domain,” he says. “It kind of can be intrusive on your phone when you’re not on work time.”
His solution? AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), which he says every employee he hires has used as one point or another.
“It’s just really easy to group chat on that function,” he says. “You can get it on your computer in your office, or you can use it on your phone when you go home.”
Heuwetter says he often sends out messages to his entire staff using AIM, and staffers can choose how often they see the messages when they’re not on the clock.
Gigi Lewis, director of Club Etiquette, says her mobile strategy is centered on a voicemail-to-text translator not unlike Google Voice. She acknowledges that “sometimes it’s not exactly a perfect science” in regard to transcription, but it’s an easy way to get her messages and send out messages to large groups of people.
“I think of it as a vital part of communication,” she says.
At least two poll respondents who said their mobile strategies are up and running got there because their companies are in the business of providing ready-made mobile strategies.
Kimberly Kohatsu, director of marketing at Callfire, touted her company’s tools which enable broadcasting messages through both voice messages and texts. Likewise, Matthew Phoenix, an account manager at TIBCO Software, discussed Tibbr, an internal social networking tool that has a mobile component.
It’s a growing industry, with companies such as Mobisoft also getting in on internal communications packages.