Employee Communications Applications: A New Technology Market
“The emerging market of employee communications applications to relay organizational and operational topics, including COVID-19, to their employees is overwhelming.”
With those first few words in its October 2020 Market Guide for Employee Communications Applications, the world’s leading research and advisory company, Gartner, continues to pave the way for the growing business technology category. One of the key findings of the report is that “ECA vendors are evolving to support multichannel and multiexperience communications with some vendors expanding into operational communications.”
Employee communication is more important now than ever before.
That’s why I believe the Gartner Market Guide for Employee Communications Applications is so significant. I believe that Gartner has created a roadmap to help business professionals navigate this quickly emerging, and often confusing, terrain. And the timing couldn’t be better. Organizations are desperately searching for ways to keep rapidly evolving workforces engaged, motivated, and productive.
The Market Guide defines the category this way:
“The employee communications applications market consists of vendors where a significant emphasis of the business model, brand messaging and product capabilities focus on employee communications. The solution value proposition emphasizes how better communications improves employee:
- Engagement — Through more effective information flows and employee experience at an organizational level.
- Performance — By facilitating more effective knowledge exchange to streamlined work activities at an operational level.
Solutions in this market are defined by their purpose (internal employee communications), by their target sponsor (nontechnical business users in formal roles as “communicators” to disseminate organizational and/or operational information) and by their broad functionality. Products are used to plan, create, schedule, coordinate, distribute, personalize, manage and execute campaigns, while measuring the effectiveness of internal communications.”
At Dynamic Signal, we’re honored to be included as a Representative Vendor in Gartner’s October 2020 Market Guide for Employee Communications Applications.
We’ve considered ourselves a leader over the past decade in the employee communication and engagement space – even before it was considered a formal technology category. Our guiding principle has always been that clear, authentic, transparent communication is the foundation of every healthy relationship. That includes the employer-employee bond.
There’s a wealth of recent research that links employee engagement with productivity. (Here’s a list of eye-opening employee productivity statistics.) For me, a key data point comes from Gallup, which in 2018 found that 34 percent of U.S. employees are engaged on the job. That was a record high, by the way. Great! But there was a not-so-great part, too. Gallup determined that 53 percent of employees only give the minimum effort required, and 13 percent are actively disengaged. So, two-thirds of employees are not motivated on the job.
Also, we’re witnessing unprecedented changes in the workforce. For instance, 88% of organizations worldwide either made it mandatory or encouraged employees to work from home after COVID-19 was declared a pandemic. With the number of people working from home having increased by 140% since 2005, it is expected that by 2028, 73% of all departments will have remote workers.
With the onslaught of the pandemic on business activity earlier this year, it has never been more challenging to engage employees and keep them safe and informed throughout such an unsettling time. This further demonstrates the need for effective two-way communication. According to the report, “The core value proposition of ECA is to deliver a personalized communications experience that facilitates employee understanding and behavior change in ways that align with company goals, while providing employees the opportunity to provide feedback to management on those goals.”
As I read the Market Guide, two main points jumped out to me as being particularly noteworthy.
One, Gartner does an excellent job of explaining the shift in workplace trends due to the pandemic and why ECA tools are critical for maintaining business continuity in addition to long-term growth and success. For instance, buyers are “recognizing that COVID-19 identified inadequate capabilities to effectively reach out to employees, especially frontline workers, as it related to their pandemic response.” As employee wellness and safety have become top of mind for business leaders, Gartner highlights “leveraging the need for crisis and urgent communication capabilities in response to COVID-19 to make ECA investments a core part of business continuity.”
Two, Gartner emphasizes how vendors are continuously innovating and evolving their features to foster ongoing communication success within companies, as “…the most developed and mature functionality that is available in most products in this market relates to collaboration, tasks and projects, and content/information sharing. The most active area of development and differentiation between products is around workflow, automation, analytics and reporting. Although most vendors support basic functional capabilities, there is more emphasis on chat and building out operational communication capabilities longer-term.”
Gartner further states, “All of the vendors in this Market Guide have achieved some level of market presence. Since organizations often want to communicate to large segments of their workforce, deployments are often at a larger scale. This trend implies that decisions are more enterprise wide by nature or targeted to all employees in a certain workforce segment such as frontline workers. Other things being equal, new buyers should look for products and vendors with experience in deployment sizes that match their requirements (see Figure 5).”
Figure 5. Percentage of Deployments for Different Deployment Sizes
The Market Guide holds just as much value for marketers, communicators, and HR professionals, as it does for their IT colleagues, to start a dialogue about the best ways that they, together, can solve employee communication and engagement challenges.
Marketers certainly have become savvy technology buyers in recent years. But that remains mostly a new skill for communicators and HR leaders. I believe this Market Guide can serve as a blueprint for how they can effectively partner with their technology teams to find the best solutions that drive their businesses forward.
Most of all, in my opinion, the Market Guide continues to propel this category forward by offering a comprehensive explanation about why this kind of technology is vital for organizations.
Gartner wrote: “ECA tools make it easier for organizations to reduce employee communications overload. It is a rising priority for internal customers of application leaders to improve the effectiveness of frontline and remote workers.”
I couldn’t agree more.
Gartner, Market Guide for Employee Communications Applications, Mike Gotta and Adam Preset, 26 October 2020
Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, express or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.