“The market for employee communications applications is set for growth and innovation as vendors enter the space from multiple adjacencies, creating a hypercompetitive environment.”
With those first few words in its May 2019 Market Guide for Employee Communications Applications, the world’s leading research and advisory company Gartner, officially attached a name to an emerging technology category. One of the key findings of the report is that “Organizations want to modernize employee communications to improve employee experience, employee engagement, community building and promote a more inclusive culture.”
It’s not every day that a whole business technology category gets defined.
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 emerging, and often confusing, terrain. And I think 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 market for employee communications applications (ECAs) consists of products that enable organizations to create, coordinate, distribute, manage and execute campaigns, and analyze the effectiveness of internal communications. Products in this space support a variety of media types delivered across one or more channels with varying levels of employee interaction, such as group and peer-to-peer messaging. Organizations use ECA solutions to improve engagement by enabling more effective information flows, relevant work insights and inclusive culture across the employee experience.”
At Dynamic Signal, we’re honored to be included as a Representative Vendor in Gartner’s May 2019 Market Guide for Employee Communications Applications.
We’ve considered ourselves a leader over the past decade in the employee communication and engagement space – even if it wasn’t 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, 80 percent of workers don’t sit at desks. Meanwhile, it’s estimated that 43 percent of the U.S. workforce is expected to be part of the “gig economy” by 2020.
No wonder it’s harder than ever to engage these always on-the-go employees who make up the majority of today’s workforce. But it’s also more critical than ever. To me, that explains the importance of Gartner publishing the Market Guide now. According to the report, “The market for employee communications applications is set for growth and innovation as vendors enter the space from multiple adjacencies, creating a hypercompetitive environment. Application leaders of digital workplaces can use this guide to plan their investments in this rapidly evolving market.”
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 how there’s a diverse range of vendors in this space. For instance, “Purpose-built ECA vendors stress a mobile-first heritage – ECA vendors that specialize and focus exclusively on this market stress a mobile-first approach. While virtually all vendors with this background address organizational communications, some have expanded their solutions to embrace operational communications – sometimes contextualizing their use cases around particular verticals such as field service, manufacturing, retail and healthcare.”
Two, Gartner emphasizes a point that I feel is often overlooked about the need for multifaceted capabilities. “The market for employee communications applications (ECAs) consists of products that enable organizations to create, coordinate, distribute, manage and execute campaigns, and analyze the effectiveness of internal communications. Products in this space support a variety of media types delivered across one or more channels with varying levels of employee interaction, such as group and peer-to-peer messaging. Organizations use ECA solutions to improve engagement by enabling more effective information flows, relevant work insights and inclusive culture across the employee experience.”
Gartner further states, “The ECA market is composed of multiple domains (refer to Figure 1), specifically organizational and operational, with each domain emphasizing different use cases and measuring success in different ways.”
Figure 1. ECA Market Domains Cut Across Organizational Levels
In my role as a CRO, I think this Market Guide has just as much value for marketers, communicators, and HR professionals. I think it can be a way for them to start a dialogue with their IT colleagues 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 is a category-defining moment with a comprehensive explanation about why this kind of technology is vital for organizations.
Gartner wrote: “Offering employees more communication options via their preferred channels and devices is becoming a more common requirement and will drive better employee agility and engagement.”
I couldn’t agree more.
Gartner, Market Guide for Employee Communications Applications, Mike Gotta and Adam Preset, 28 May 2019
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