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How internal comms can benefit from using big data…

12th March 2015

 

What is big data?

On a basic level it’s a term used for the rapid and exponential growth of data that is collected, stored, and analysed to reveal patterns, trends and insights used to make better business decisions.
(SAS)
 
IBM is a leading authority on big data and advocates four key characteristics that define it:
 
Volume – Scale of data being produced
Velocity – Speed of data creation. Analysis of real time streaming data
Variety – Different forms of data. Social networks, smartphones, sensors etc.
Veracity – Uncertainty of data.
 

Big data has been traditionally used as a marketing tool to understand very specifically what the consumer wants – achieved through collecting and analysing data from consumers ever-increasing digital footprints.

 
Due to the digitisation of the workplace, volume, velocity and variety are reaching levels that offer enterprises the opportunity to apply big data analytics within their enterprise, to better understand certain elements and processes.
 
Big data analytics holds the same huge potential inside an organisation as it does outside. And those organisations that were early in adopting and cultivating their enterprise social networks will likely be the first to reap the rewards from utilising big data analytics.
 
The following are some of the ways in which internal communicators can take advantage of big data analytics:
 
 

Attitudes towards change

Whereas before traditional analytics reported in numbers (viewing figures, engagement levels etc). Big data can give information on the reasons behind the types of engagements, in the form of attitudes and sentiment. Allowing businesses and internal communicators to get a clearer understanding of how employees ACTUALLY feel about planned business or strategy changes, all through their online behaviour.
 
Notably this is through analysing data within social networks. As a result of this insight (predictive analytics), businesses can add, change or even eradicate future changes before it is too late.
 
 

Communication preferences

Big data analytics can be used to identify employee’s communication preferences. Both the mediums they prefer to consume content on, and the types of content – subject nature and form. Internal communicators can use this insight to shape communications tailored to specific audiences. Resulting in far more effective communications and campaigns.
 
The days of ‘one-message fits all’ are thankfully coming to an end, and big data will help to further hammer the nail in.
 
 

Employee ambassadors

At present employee ambassadors tend to be the employees that put themselves forward for advertised ambassador/hero/champions roles. As a result self-selected employee ambassadors often don’t have the influence or authority that is required to play a significant part in the campaign they have been recruited for.
 
Big data analytics can identify the employees that have strong influence and authority and who are showing leadership qualities through their online behaviour and interactions, allowing internal communicators to identify key influencers for future use.
 
 

Talent retention

Big data offers businesses the ability to reduce turnover and keep their top talent within an organisation. Achieved by using the rich data source to identify what people want (shown in such things as social conversations and interactions) and so how companies can keep them.
 
Predictive big data analytics can also identify the groups of people who are really at risk. Internal communicators can then act on this by communicating with employees on the areas they are showing dissatisfaction and disinterest in.
 
 

Considerations

Clearly the most important part of big data analytics is actually working out what the data is actually saying. And so data scientists are crucial in identifying patterns and translating it into actionable insight. Arguably just as important will be the experts in the domains that big data analytics is taking place within. So internal communicators will be needed to ask the questions for big data analytics to provide the answers to.
 
The other key ingredient is leaders – Leaders who are capable of acting on the data driven insight by

“articulating a compelling vision, persuading people to embrace it and working hard to realise it”

(Harvard Business Review)
 
If those leaders aren’t internal communicators themselves, then you can be sure that internal communicators will be close at hand in support.
 
 

The simple truth of the matter is that data-driven decisions tend to be better decisions.

 
N.B.
Without question, privacy is a key concern, and must be built in to big data analytics.
 
 

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