What is the best internal communications software?
Internal communications are no longer viewed as a ‘nice-to-have'. It is now rightly considered a necessity within the modern enterprise. With hybrid working now a mainstay of work, the technology you use to communicate will be a key success factor, but which internal communications software is right for your enterprise?
How to choose the best internal communications software for your enterprise
Internal communications have been overlooked too often in years past, but since the wide-scale transition to hybrid work in the wake of COVID-19, any doubt about its importance has vanished.
94% of organizations are allowing employees more flexibility as to where and when they work, per Gartner research. Without the consistent access to the physical workspace we once enjoyed, this hybrid future of work looks to rely entirely on technology as the engine to drive our work, and to connect employees and employers.
Internal communications have a vital role to play in that future of work, but the software you use to communicate with employees needs to directly solve the challenges facing your workforce to effectively reach, align, and engage people.
Deciding on which type of software is the best fit for you depends on the shape, size, and complexity of your organization. That’s why we’ve created this guide to the field of available options, breaking down each type of internal communications software to help you find the solution that can help connect your enterprise and align your people with your values and goals.
How to supercharge your internal comms
In today’s workplace, effective internal communications are vital to business success. Engaged employees are a company’s greatest asset, but with the workplace transforming at pace, the way we communicate must adapt. This comprehensive guide offers a collection of insights to support internal communicators to supercharge their strategy for the future of work.
Examples of internal communications tools
Internal comms software can range from single apps with narrow use cases all the way to complete platforms that bring people, tools, and content into one hub. For today’s enterprises, this software typically acts as their core communications system and the go-to source of information for employees.
Below are four different types of internal communications software that the tools we see in use today generally fall into:
The days of static, outdated corporate intranets are long gone. Modern intranets are now a go-to hub for all manner of communications, where users can access and share information across their organization and connect with colleagues. Intranets now employ familiar features, such as social feeds and secure file-sharing, to build a central resource that users can rely on to collaborate and stay connected with their organization. Intranets also offer a host of integration opportunities for enterprises looking to make use of other channels and tools alongside an intranet.
Employee mobile apps have risen to prominence in recent years as a highly effective and convenient way for enterprises to communicate with employees, particularly those working on the frontlines, remotely, or in transit. Taking a leaf from consumer-grade communications, enterprise mobile intranet apps work on the premise that employees’ smartphones are a reliable channel to reach users no matter where they work, taking advantage of push notifications to improve the reach of communications.
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Email remains a ubiquitous part of work, so many enterprises still rely on email newsletters as the backbone of their communications strategy. Newsletters enable internal communicators to catch readers up on a lot of information quickly, using a variety of assets and updates to give a full picture of what’s been happening across the organization. More advanced tools will also offer enterprises the ability to track readership and engagement with emails, providing valuable insight into the impact and reception of communications.
Collaboration software, such as Zoom or Slack, combine various features like instant messaging and video calling to bring employees together and support collaborative work. Where many employees leave these apps open in the background as they work, these channels double as a convenient way for organizations to reach users with communications. Many of these tools can integrate with other applications, allowing users to share content to channels and groups within these tools.
Can Microsoft Teams replace your intranet?
Microsoft Teams has become a dominant force for virtual collaboration. With their number of daily users more than tripling since the start of the pandemic, Teams is now a seemingly ubiquitous part of remote working. But can it replace your intranet?
Any one of these solutions can help boost the reach of your communications, but it's important to avoid tools that lead your enterprise down a one-way street. When reviewing the field of available options, take time to evaluate how well these tools would align and scale with your other enterprise technology moving forward.
What does any good internal communications software need?
Modern internal communications software is armed with a host of features and capabilities designed to support internal communications campaigns and provide enterprises with more accurate analytics tools. However, not all software was created equal, so any viable internal communications solutions should offer the following features in some form:
Though news feeds may not be viable in email newsletters, for intranets, employee apps, and many other solutions, news feeds are the most efficient way of updating employees on the latest news across your enterprise. News feeds help to give employees an at-a-glance view of recent activity and form a go-to hub for accessing content and communications.
One of the most powerful features any internal comms solution can provide is effective search, empowering employees to instantly find the content, tools, or information they need. Particularly advanced search experiences take efficiency even further with user targeting that surfaces results that are relevant to employees’ location, role, and department.
You can find a wealth of content and communications within any enterprise, so the trick to engaging users is to make your comms relevant to them. Sophisticated internal communications software gives enterprises the tools to target communications not just to audiences, but to individual users.
This can take the form of email newsletters that dynamically populate with content relevant to the recipient, or news feeds that surface content that relates to employees’ roles, locations, departments, and interests.
Two-way communication gives employees the chance to use their voice and actively engage with content, in turn providing enterprises with more accurate ways of measuring how successful internal communications are.
Future-ready internal communications solutions need to give users the opportunity to like, comment, share, and use bespoke reactions to interact with content and drive valuable conversations.
In the globalized and decidedly digital world of work, location is no longer a barrier for recruiting top talent. This has been transformative for enterprises, but internal communicators are footing the bill of communicating across language barriers.
Internal communications software that leverages automation keeps everyone on the same page with fully translatable communications and AI-powered multilingual translation.
Surveys, forms, and polls
Surveys enable organizations to accurately measure engagement and gather direct feedback from employees, aiding more insight-driven decisions. Some tools will allow for targeting and personalizing surveys to specifically cater to individuals and meet the needs of different departments.
A key advantage of internal communications software, particularly for supporting collaboration, is the ability to share files and documents. Users can attach and send files with messages or share links to cloud documents.
Push notifications cut through the noise to directly alert users when they receive a message, are tagged in conversations, or when content is published under the topics or feeds they subscribe to. For frontline workforces, push notifications are key for extending the reach of internal communications.
7 steps to futureproof your internal communications strategy
As leaders reimagine their world of work, it is internal communications that will lead the way in aligning the workforce against this vision. Future corporate communication strategies will be decidedly inclusive, agile, and digitalized. To succeed in this new era, internal communications teams will move towards an omnichannel approach that brings the consumer experience into the workplace.
Evaluating the top internal communications software
Many of the modern intranets and employee experience platforms available to enterprises today are purpose-built to provide next-gen internal communications channels. Where leadership’s perception of the significance of internal communications has increased rapidly in recent years, these platforms have developed to solve the core communications challenges enterprises face.
- Intranets form a central digital hub for all employee needs, including internal communications, so you can reach employees where they work
- Intranets leverage a host of features that encourage two-way communication, including social networks designed to connect employees and content
- Intranets can integrate with a wide variety of third-party tools, including all of the examples listed above
- Intranets, as a wider platform with various use cases, can be more costly than some tools with more narrow and specific use cases
- Intranets require governance and shared accountability to ensure that content does not become outdated or irrelevant
Modern intranet top practices
Discover Gartner's top tips for creating a world-class intranet strategy to enhance employee experience in the new world of work.
#2. Mobile app
Mobile apps are a more recent addition to the digital workplace but offer great potential to connect and align even the most complex and separated workforces. Frontline and remote employees remain some of the hardest demographics to reach and engage but delivering internal communications directly to employees’ pockets is a promising solution to this persistent challenge.
- Mobile apps put communications in employees’ pockets, providing a reliable and convenient channel for reaching remote and deskless employees
- Mobile apps extend the reach of internal comms, allowing users to take content with them and enjoy it where and when they like, making for a more engaging and personal experience
- Many mobile apps lack the feature-full desktop experiences that office-based employees come to expect from digital tools
- Mobile apps can be met with resistance from those who don’t wish to mix work and their personal life on their own devices
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#3. Email newsletters
Email newsletters and email tracking software remain a crucial component of internal communications, despite email fatigue increasing across the board throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. With advanced tools providing insight into readership and engagement, modern email builders can help internal communicators to analyze and adapt their strategies to better meet the needs of employees.
- Well-designed email newsletters are a highly efficient and engaging way of delivering important updates
- Email remains the primary communication channel for 95% of employees, per Ragan research
- Email content can be viewed across devices and can be used to link back to other tools, like an intranet
- Emails aren’t the best at grabbing employees’ attention. According to Ragan’s Internal Email Benchmark Report 2021, the average email open rate is just 68%
- Click rates are even lower, at just 8%. Even the highest-scoring organization surveyed could boast an average click rate of just 18%
Stantec builds an inspired culture with a modern internal newsroom
After rapid expansion, Stantec's internal comms team faced the challenge of engaging 22k employees across 35 offices. ‘The Lens’ brings their inspired culture to the fingertips of every employee to spotlight the work Stantec is doing to shape communities big and small.
#4. Collaboration tools
Collaboration tools give enterprises platforms to bring people together to work seamlessly on projects. With a host of features to make instant connections and share information, employees are empowered to make hybrid working work for them. But, where these platforms solve key enterprise challenges to connect enterprises, they also create new challenges of their own.
- Collaboration tools like Slack or Teams have become one of the main places employees work, particularly following the COVID-19 pandemic. Teams usage has now jumped to 145 million daily active users from just 13 million in 2019, so it makes sense to reach these users where they work
- Tools with built-in instant messaging features offer channels for sharing content and adjacent channels for colleagues to discuss and engage with content
- Instant messaging channels can form siloes, where conversations that could be valuable to others are locked away in private channels
- Depending on an enterprise’s data retention policy, insights may be lost after time. This can mean valuable knowledge is lost, or employees find themselves unable to access previous communications
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Modern intranets combine the best tools in one system
With a step-by-step analysis of the available internal communications software, the merits and shortcomings of each solution become clear. Where some struggle, others excel. The challenges some solutions solve are the very same that others amplify.
So, what can your enterprise take from this?
The best option when it comes to internal communications software is all of them. That may sound like a paradox at first, but the truth is that a modern employee experience platform combines the best elements of an intranet, employee mobile app, email newsletters, and collaboration tools into one central hub.
Integrating seamlessly with existing technology and providing a platform to power the features that drive reach and engagement, an employee experience platform promises to revolutionize internal communications for the future of work while consolidating technology into a simple and intuitive one-stop-shop for your employees.
Pick and choose the features you need with an employee experience platform
Unily empowers global enterprises to get the most from their existing internal communications technology and, with our employee experience maturity model, combine all the features and capabilities you need into a package that suits your organization. To find out what that package could look like for your enterprise, get in touch with an expert today.
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Reinvent your intranet for the employee experience era.