Friday, November 22, 2013

Using Google Glass to measure internal communications in the age of context

By guest blogger Katie Delahaye Paine. Katie, a highly regarded communication measurement expert, blogs regularly at She recently had an opportunity to try Google Glass and said “it took about 30 seconds using Google Glass to really grok what they were talking about—in short, a world where companies, the government, your computing device and the objects around you will ‘know’ you better than you know yourself.”

With luck and Glass, scenarios like the following will never happen again: Years ago, when corporate video was all the rage, a well-known research laboratory approached me to measure the success of its internal communications. My contact was the person who was running the corporate video program at the time and the real reason for the research was to justify its cost. We proposed an employee survey to understand where they got information, what they found most useful, and what communications mechanism they preferred. We also asked the usual employee engagement questions like, how committed you are to the organization? do you feel this is an organization you can trust? And do you trust the information you are receiving?

Just as we were fielding the survey, the company announced that it was being restructured and put up for sale, so naturally we were worried about our findings. The client decided to forge ahead and when the results were in, they were surprisingly positive. They felt that, under the circumstances, the company was doing as good a job as they could in keeping them informed. However, when we got into the specifics of which types of communications were most effective, it turns out that they HATED the video program. Naturally the client was upset, so we dug into the data together.

As it turns out the most negative responses came from one department, which was comprised primarily of very highly advanced programmers. The fact that they were not happy was obviously a big deal. I reported my results to the client who responded: “Oh them. Those guys are such nerds. They are so focused on their work and their computer screens that they actually hooked up a ‘coffee cam,’ because god forbid they should ever get up from their desks for a cup of coffee and find that the pot was empty. Instead they checked the coffee cam and only left their desks when they saw there was coffee there. “

I pointed out that it was hardly surprising, if they were that reluctant to leave their desk, that they would enjoy being forced to walk all the way to the conference room to watch a video, even if it was just a 3 minute walk.

I see Google Glass as the ultimate answer to that problem.

Essentially with Glass, those programmers would carry their computers with them wherever they go so they will get information wherever they are, and whenever they want it. And, when employees can chose the time and form of message delivery, employee communications teams will know immediately which messages of all the myriad ones they receive, they actually pay attention to, and which they ignore. With metrics like that, all decisions will be based on data not on the internal political clout of the requestor.

Imagine a world without “how useful do you find the newsletter” surveys. No more relying on employees reluctantly filling out questionnaires about what they recall or feel. That world will be populated with communications teams who will be able to measure what is most effective at engaging employees and tailor delivery and content accordingly.

But that’s just the first step. Ultimately, however, it’s not about whether employees got your message. It’s about whether that message yielded any benefit. The beauty of measurement in the age of context is that you’ll be able to analyze how employees work, rank them from most to least efficient or effective at any particular task, and then correlate that data to their message consumption and engagement level.

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