Blog: Frank Kenna 

Frank Kenna (bio)
President and CEO
The Marlin Company

Thursday, 18 December 2014

You may be wondering what I mean by a “second screen.” It refers to the smartphone or tablet that people use while watching a primary screen. For example, a recent Nielsen report stated that 86% of smartphone owners use their devices as second-screens while watching TV. If they’re doing it with their TVs at home, then they’re doing it at work with your digital signage (DS), too.

So how can you take advantage of this phenomenon? That same report notes the importance of the “three Rs”—reach, resonance, and reaction. Let’s take a look at each factor and see how you can make them work for you.

Reach – The reason you use DS is to broadcast your messages to as wide an audience as possible, right? Knowing that many of your employees have a second screen, you want to be thinking about ways your messaging can also appear there. One way to do this is to use QR codes on your content. For example, let’s say your HR department posts a piece on your revised 401k plan. Put a QR code on it that’s set to download the piece onto the employee’s device, who can then forward it to a spouse at home. That’s a great way to increase reach beyond the workplace.

Resonance – Using the QR code idea above also helps with resonance, because bringing that content into the home will cause discussion and action on it. Or another example could be to set the code to redirect the employee’s device to a related website for more information. The website can have much more information on a subject than you can fit onto a piece of DS content, causing more time spent on the subject and more thorough understanding. For instance, using the 401k example above, the code could open a website on the employee’s device of the investment choices and real-time performance of the plan.

Another idea is to have a contest on a particular subject. Let’s say you have a health issue with people lifting properly. Ask employees to take photos of proper lifting with their devices and email them to a particular email address you’ve noted on a piece of content. This will make the photographers much more involved with thinking about lifting, and the resulting photos will make your subsequent content much more resonant because they’re from, and of, fellow employees.

Reaction – Most managers want to get feedback from their people. Using the second screen is a good way to do this. One way is to simply put a “respond to“ email address on any piece of content that you post. This works well since any employee can use this even if they don’t have a smart device. Or use a QR code and set it to automatically open a blank email pre-addressed with the correct email address. Or set it to launch a brief survey. (I know I’ve mentioned QR codes a lot in this blog. If you’re not sure how to use them or even what they are, give us a call and we’ll be happy to explain.)

Using these concepts can make a real difference in connecting with your employees, and getting your messaging widely distributed and better understood. Give them a try!

Posted by: Admin AT 09:07 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
Tuesday, 08 July 2014

That title is from a June 9th article in The Wall Street Journal, which examined the trend of employees going off on their own – around corporate IT – to get their jobs done. It’s an important development because of the way it’s transforming the software industry, companies’ IT departments, and the companies’ financial results.

A typical scenario is this: A group of employees is working on a document that resides on the company network behind the corporate firewall.  The problem arises when those employees are on the road or working from home where they may not have access to the network. So they go around the firewall by saving the document on Dropbox – problem solved. Or is it?

The obvious issue is that the firewall is there for a reason, to protect the company and the integrity of its information. But if that protection prevents employees from doing their jobs, it becomes counter-productive. Which begs the question: Which is more important, data security or productivity?

There isn’t a clear answer. Both sides of the argument are important. But new research  from PricewaterhouseCoopers adds credence to the need for companies to embrace these new mobile technologies one way or the other.

Their 5th Annual Digital IQ Survey of more than 1,100 business and technology executives found that companies that embrace new technologies were more prevalent in their “Top Performers” (TPs) group. For example, nearly twice as many TPs (32%) say they have everything [their employees] need on their mobile platforms compared to 17% of other respondents. And TPs are much more likely to invest in public cloud applications than non-TPs, by a margin of 69% to 47%.

To me, the future is clear.  Using the new mobile and cloud technologies is a trend that’s gaining momentum quickly, creating excellent outcomes for work groups and their companies. Organizations that don’t adapt are being left behind as illustrated by PwC’s study.  But even managers who agree with this may be in a quandary due to concerns about controlling company information. What those managers need to realize is that the information is out of their control anyway, and really has been for years. After all, employees have been emailing documents outside of the company to their home computers, associates and personal email accounts for over 20 years.  

Clear policies on sharing and moving company information are a big part of the solution, for example as outlined in this Huffington Post article. Managers have been through all of this all before, as the introductions of the telephone, fax machine, personal computer and email all presented similar concerns. But the important thing to remember is they also created huge productivity gains and are now part of our workplace fabric.  

Posted by: Admin AT 09:15 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
Tuesday, 18 September 2012

In my last blog I wrote about how the "social" in the social-mobile-local trilogy works in today's workplace. I emphasize the word "today" as this is changing rapidly and six months from now will probably be out of date.

Today I'm discussing "mobile" and where it fits into the workplace.

Embracing the smart device reality

Maybe you've heard the term BYOD, which stands for "Bring Your Own Device." It refers to the trend of employees bringing their smartphone, tablets and other mobile devices to work and using them throughout the day for both work and personal use.

This can carry a positive or negative connotation depending on your point of view. Mine is that it's going to happen whether we like it or not, so we might as well embrace and use it to our advantage. So what are the advantages? There are a couple.

Mobile network advantages

First, you have a communications network set up that costs nothing. Your employees have paid for and sourced the equipment and are actively using it for workplace data access. While there are employees using a tablet security concerns, this new network gives you the ability to communicate with your employees in a way never possible until now.

For example, you can use QR codes on digital signage content that, when scanned by employees using smart devices, will allow them to download the content, answer a survey about it, send an email associated with it or other actions. This means your employees can now consider and respond to your content, instead of just reading it. That's a huge difference, and it's possible right now.

Soon, using near-field communications, or NFC, you'll be able to "grab" employees walking by and prompt them to respond to your content or take other actions.

Mobile devices are becoming an extension of our employees, one that makes interaction easier than ever before. This is a significant new communication opportunity that every manager should consider.
Posted by: Frank Kenna AT 05:11 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
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