Market musings

Business Communication Planning: Putting Your Humans First

by Sasha Viasasha
August 2, 2017

It’s inevitable: Digital transformation will end up leaving some companies behind, and not just legacy giants. The mandate goes something like this: Be transformed, or get disrupted. Leaders at Cisco are among those predicting a major extinction event that will eliminate 4 out of 10 businesses within the next few years. 

The convergence of digital trends like mobility, automation and big data have radically altered the role information workers play, and now the pressure is on to ride the innovation wave to growth rather than be wiped out.   

Magician, Politician, and Engineer

Unifying and securing your business communication infrastructure across a network of connected devices while turning data into actionable customer insights that improves customer experience requires knowledge workers to be supremely versatile: part magician, part politician, and part engineer.

One important aspect of digital transformation is the blending of online and offline worlds; crucial to this effort is is better cooperation between humans and machines. Fostering that collaboration requires a greater understanding of human behavior and motivation at the technological edge. 

Strategy and psychology come to play a larger role as the human element of IT has become painfully apparent.

Communication Pain

Poor communication planning is costing companies vast sums on lost productivity and inefficiencies, even before the lost opportunity costs of underutilized data enters the equation. Engagement, customer satisfaction and strategic planning all suffer losses when organizational communication isn't well executed. 

How can IT reconcile its many roles? Accountability to the financial people is foremost, but too simple of an analysis can set IT up for failure.

Static formulas for measuring ROI invariably fail in scope. Balancing the dynamic needs of all the stakeholders while mediating the various business communication styles of a diverse work community of multigenerational, multicultural and distributed workers requires more than a real-time ROI calculation.

Forecasting is tricky, though, and as much of an art as a science.  

Calculating ROI Based on How Tech Is Being Used

What assumption are being baked into the forecast, and how reliant are they on human behavior? Understanding the humans that are using technology—the how and why that drives their behavior—is increasingly a preoccupation of forward-thinking technologists.

Which is not to say that return on investment doesn’t matter. Financial literacy is more important than ever for IT leaders, as they take on a more strategic role in the organization.  Money matters; more than ever. Even growing companies are feeling the capital crunch.

SMB’s typically get only 40% of the funds they request through traditional lenders, and rising costs are a concern across industries. When capital is tight, each decision is more impactful.  And, as markets tighten and crowd, less margin for error means getting things right the first time.  

Execution Is Everything

Finding high value, low cost technology solutions that work well can be a great boon for small businesses.  But if the solution fails to deliver, it can end up costing more in the long run. These failures are often human rather than technological in nature.

If customers and employees don’t buy-in or see the value, the solution is doomed. Failure might at times be a matter of choosing the wrong technology, but it’s more often a case of choosing the right technology but at the wrong time, or failing to successfully implement technology due to a policy and culture lag.

Solving for this really means understanding the pain points of business communication, why productivity suffers, what customers are experiencing and how both technology and policy work together to build a communication infrastructure that is more responsive and resilient. Scaling works both ways, as businesses may need to move in and out of markets to keep growing.  

Selling the Solution

IT leaders are almost like entrepreneurs who have to carefully chart the right path to market. While keeping an eye on the bottom line, they have to balance customer experience, a hyper-competitive sales landscape that drives early-and-often adoption of new tools, while anticipating the reticence of technology laggards who may resist new ways of doing things if they don’t see the incentive.

Technology that reduces the friction of competing channels and gets teams to collaborate more effectively has to work together with policies that reward group efforts.

Human-first business communication planning focuses on customer experience in any technology decision. The internal and external customer both figure in this equation, and by centering their experience in your business communication plan, you can be assured of its success.

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