Is digitisation necessary?

For a long time I have been prodding my team to go digital. Do more of videos, I say. Improvise, I say. Use your phones to shoot and later edit. Capture the moment. The feeling. The emotion. Do not let it slither away – the present is the present. Once gone, it is past.

The emphasis on going digital begs the question – is digitisation in communications necessary? Shooting a video is just one aspect of digitisation and it is no easy game. It takes planning. It takes a script. It calls for readiness from both the person who is to be captured and one who is shooting.

Video shoot is not a random act. Most importantly, it eats into time; time that could well be spent doing something more critical.

Yet, wherever I go, with whomever I interact within the communications fraternity, the talk is of doing videos.
Let us go to the basics then and begin with defining who our customer really is and why the need to digitise.

Who is our customer? Why do you want to digitise?

We well recognise that today power has moved to the customer. However, for communicators, it has always been employees’ first, customers second. Organisational employees are our first customers. Indeed, one of our key focus area is on creating ‘brand value’ via employee ambassadorship. It is to this set of customers that we should address our digitisation efforts.

Internal stakeholders are as critical to us as our external stakeholders are. As communicators, it is important they know what the employees think of the organisation, what prompts them to stay with the organisation, what makes them move away…communicators know very well that it is the internal reality that drives external reputation.

Millennials form a sizeable chunk of employees in any organisation. How does the millennial generation today make a decision? How does this generation process information? The answer lies in the ubiquitous mobile phone and the innumerable ‘App’ downloads that we today have access to. Our phones and the apps have virtually taken over our lives. We look for inspiration and motivation through apps like ‘ThinkUp’, ‘Fabulous’ and ‘Motivate.’ We look for skills and ease of navigating life through gamification of situations. Our daily commute is easy because of apps. Online study courses from ‘Coursera’ are easily accessible via their app. The key question to ask is – will digitisation help me achieve my communication objectives? Therefore, can we target business-aligned communication to go digital and be ‘app’ sized? If the answer is yes, read on to the next step.

Digitising internal communications

After having answered the question ‘why’ we need to identify ‘what’ is it within internal communications that we need to digitise. Brainstorm on the outcome and impact. Do not undertake the exercise of digitisation just because ‘everyone else is doing it’ and ‘so should we.’ There has to be a business case behind the objective and a method in the whole madness.

Ask – what is the end benefit? Will more of videos on the intranet increase the traffic to the site? Will videos resonate with employees? Will the message be more impactful if we do a leadership video? How can we measure the impact? How can we monitor the number of views, comments, and reactions?

Debate – can the intranet itself be digitised and condensed into an app? Imagine the reach of this app for your sales force who are on the move constantly and often alienated from the happenings in the head office.

Question – what if HR policies, services and even compliance training is available via an app? Will this translate into higher adherence to policies and compliance? Can we enhance employee experience through gamification of HR policies?

It is much more than an app

Digital transformation of communications goes much beyond developing an app. It is about cultivating a different mind-set. It is about disruptive innovation. It is about people and it is about culture. The beauty of digitisation lies in its simplicity. Digitisation help us distill key communication messages into a common narrative that resonates with just about everyone.

It is effective communication.

Sarita Bahl
Country Group Head CSR at Bayer - South Asia
Sarita Bahl leads the Corporate Social Responsibility function for Bayer South Asia and is also the Director – Bayer Prayas Association. Prior to this, she successfully oversaw the communications and public affairs function for Bayer South Asia. Over her three decades of professional experience, Sarita has held multiple roles across diverse industries, public sector, trade associations, MNCs and the Not-for-profit sector. An alumnus of Tata Institute of Social Science and the Swedish Institute of Management Program, Sarita specializes in stakeholder engagement, sustainability and communications. She is passionate about animals (is mother to a female cat), books and movies.

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