By Sal Camarda, Managing Partner, MeetApp North America
There is no doubt that our smartphones are highly valuable to us and have become an extension of our lives. Smartphones have changed how we live, work, create, and maintain relationships. Mobile platforms can improve awareness and engagement around corporate values and significantly enhance the corporate, organisational and community event and initiative experience.
We have become so attached and reliant on smartphones that there is now an actual psychological state of anxiety called nomophobia – the fear of being out of mobile contact. Cognitive scientists believe that the smartphone has changed the way humans think and process information.
According to a 2015 study (Microsoft), the evolution of the human brain in response to the digital lifestyle resulted in the decline of the average human attention span from 12 seconds in the year 2000 to eight seconds five years later; effectively one second less than a goldfish. At the same time, the report concluded that our ability to multitask has drastically improved.
The growing adoption of smartphones paired with human behavioral changes, like the desire to attach such a high value to their smartphones, has posed a new and very interesting dynamic in human engagement.
Last year, an article posted on Forbes.com by Mark P. Mills called “The Mobile Revolution Has Only Just Begun” pointed out two very interesting facts:
Fact #1: A global survey found that “an average consumer puts an implied value of $6,000 on their smartphone.”
Fact #2: That same global survey found that “companies that were ‘mobile leaders’ (defined by the intensity of mobile usage) saw 200% greater revenue growth and hired people at a rate 800% faster than ‘mobile laggards’.”
The ever-growing adoption of smartphones has ushered in a plethora of applications that help make our professional and personal lives more efficient. With the app market projected to be a US$77 billion industry by 2017, more businesses are scrambling to adopt mobile apps into their day-to-day business for a variety of needs.
With my background in software, user experience and human-computer interaction, I believe that new mobile platforms can significantly enhance the corporate, organisational and community event and initiative experience.
Let us look at how organizations with highly distributed workforces value distributed values
Corporate values have been the rage for quite some time. Companies spend large sums of money crafting and advertising their values to their employees in hopes of transforming their culture. However, the hardest part is achieving a strong rate of awareness and engagement around those values. This becomes an even bigger issue with organisations like large consulting companies who have highly distributed work forces.
This situation begs the question “How do you stick your values over the water cooler when the water cooler is in another company’s office?”
Consulting companies who leverage event apps for smartphones have the ability to keep their distributed workforce informed and engaged in real-time. They can leverage push notifications to efficiently draw their employees’ eyeballs to new, relevant information around company events and initiatives. With in-app polling and text dialoguing, these companies can quickly gain valuable insight from their employees and leverage that insight to help improve employee morale and buy in.
The problem with distributed millennials
Native app engagement is particularly important for the millennial workforce which, according to a May 2016 Gallup Poll, are the “least engaged generation in the workplace”. The report also mentioned that turnover among millennials currently costs the U.S. economy $30.5 billion annually. Millennials, or as I like to call them, the “opt-in generation”, are much more engaged through native in-app push notifications than emails. The email has, for lack of better terms, become the inter-office mail of ‘ye olden days’.
To understand why millennials prefer push notifications over email, you have to look at the influence smartphones have played in changing the way we consume information. Since the beginning of time, if I wanted to find information, I would have to go and find it; whether it was speaking to the town elder, going to the library or logging into the internet.
We are now in the midst of a huge paradigm shift in how we consume information. If I want information, I can opt into information one-time whether it be political news, the latest fashions or what is happening with my friends. An app will then tell me when something relevant to my interest is happening without me having to go search for it – thus, the opt-in generation.
As millennials take over the workforce, it is becoming that much more critical to adapt to better means of information distribution and engagement – especially when they are part of a distributed workforce.
An exclusive single source to keep your distributed workforce aligned
An increasing number of companies use event apps not only as a tool for meetings and events, but also to promote corporate values and initiatives. Event apps can be used to distribute information, solicit feedback and spark dialogue from teams to help transform the corporate culture and rally people around their corporate values.
By centralising important internal updates into an exclusive media channel like a native app, you are providing a quick and easy way for people to access documents, ongoing dialogues and more. When something new happens, app administrators can distribute new information to the mobile app and alert members through push notifications.
Soliciting feedback by sending a push notification through a native mobile app is naturally more effective than other methods. An advanced and user friendly meeting/event app can increase audience engagement by as much as 800 per cent compared to other methods, like surveys.
One particular company mentioned to me before an event that they were lucky to get a four to seven percent response rate from their employees after their conferences. By leveraging an event app’s dialogue feature with push notifications, they saw a 99% engagement rate during the event and an 87% engagement rate after the event. That is a huge difference in engagement and dialogue.
That same company now uses its event app for a variety of internal business needs from corporate communications, training, and various internal initiatives like diversity and inclusion.
The key is to send these push notifications frequently enough over time without it becoming a nuisance to the users. I encourage my customers to switch it up, be creative, and keep notifications short. Following up the notification with an in-app poll or possibly some media that ties in that information is great for engagement, as well.
In the case of corporate values, many corporations poll their employees to see which values are most important to them and then follow it with in-app dialoguing around how to make the lower ranked values more relevant to the employees.
By leveraging native app technology, you are creating a more efficient private media channel that will spread your message more efficiently, provide valuable insight into your distributed workforce and give your teams that sense of transparency and inclusion that every company strives to accomplish.
About the writer: Sal Camarda is Managing Partner at MeetApp North America, a market leading developer of mobile platforms for meetings and events. He has over 16 years of experience in computer software, user experience and human-computer interaction.