When it comes to choosing a platform for internal communication and information sharing, how do I make sure I make the right choice? As a partner in Ziik, my team and I have been involved with hundreds of big and small, Danish and International companies as part of their decision-making process. Based on our experiences, I’d like to share some tips and observations you might find useful in your process.
Please note: As a partner in Ziik, I am obviously biased. On the other hand, I am in the business of winning happy customers, not customers who would have been happier with something else. OK? Good! Then we’re ready to tackle the big question: When it comes to choosing a platform for internal communications and information sharing, what is the right choice - for me, my company and my co-workers.
When you start your research for a communication software you will come across a lot of new terms best-of-breed and full-suite and it is important to know these, as the distinction has knock-on effects to a number of other issues.
Best-of-breed usually means you’re dealing with a software platform that was specifically developed to do a limited number of tasks really well, like internal communication and information sharing, workforce management, checklists, or e-learning.
Full-suite is most often used to describe a whole suite or bundle of solutions that tries to cover all your company’s needs all at once, including internal communications. Microsoft and Google develop such suites.
After testing 20 different platforms it was clear that Ziik was the only one capable of supporting our complex organisation - Ali Gharaee, Subway
...and let’s face it: No one ever will. So while no one has been fired for choosing a Microsoft product yet, my advice is still: Don’t pick a service provider from where you only gonna use 50% of the features. This will create a lack of overview and compromise the user friendliness, which will be reflected in low engagement. Chances are they are not able to fully focus on executing any of them as well as a specialized and focused best-of-breed product. If you need a communication and information sharing platform, go with a provider that focuses on those features. If you need an e-learning solution, look for a provider specialized in that. Learning is not easy! You need more than just software. Example: if a communication platform provider shows you an online questionnaire with a primitive gamification feature attached and calls it an e-learning system – they’re not specialized in e-learning. And probably not in communication, either.
In your search, you’ll often come across the concepts cloud-computing (or cloud-based or just cloud) and SaaS (Software as a Service). That just means that a piece of software doesn’t ‘live’ and run on your computer or your own servers. Instead, your computer (device) uses the internet to access a computer or server somewhere else that runs the program. That’s quite clever because that means you don’t need a big installation to use the program, you just sign up, download the app and start using the software.
Another cool feature of cloud computing and SaaS concepts is that your software automatically updates itself whenever necessary. That also makes it easy for the service providers to roll out new functionality and features and to constantly update the program to suit the needs of your company. This is another reason why going with a provider with a clear direction for their best-of-breed solution is your best choice.
The ability to integrate with other software solutions has to be a key feature of your new communication and information sharing platform. That way, when your company needs other services such as an e-learning solution down the road – you’ll be able to integrate a solution from a best-of-breed e-learning specialist. E-learning is not just e-learning! It is a complex field that requires knowledge to master. At Ziik we believe in 'The Learning Lifecycle Platform' provided by Learningbank.
Best-of-breed solutions can be standalone but are, in their core, built to work seamlessly together with other providers. Thanks to advances in technology, it’s now possible to tie two best-of-breed products so closely together that the user experience doesn’t suffer when switching between the two.
Ziik absolutely makes communication, collaboration and sharing of documents easier – especially when, as is often the case in our industry, the company isn't centralised in one location - Christian Cordsen, Vesti Olsen & Hansen A/S
Choosing a specialized, subscription and cloud-based, SaaS solution is also risk-mitigating in that there are no big upfront investments required. You sign up and go, you only pay for how many users you actually have – and you can usually cancel your subscription with a month’s notice. In addition, solutions like that are designed to grow with your company. Adding and onboarding new employees or new business tools can be done with a click.
If you on the other hand go with a full-suite solution you need to know that it can be way more complex to replace insufficient features with specialised ones, once you want to do that. Moreover you will pay for features that you don’t really need.
All of the points above ensure that you get a solution you can start using today as well as something that is future-proof!
Ziik is a best-of-breed platform, 100% dedicated to internal communication and information sharing. We have reinvented the intranet and done away with unnecessary functionality and complex user interfaces. Your employees won’t have to spend time learning how to use it, as that comes intuitively and you only pay for what you need. We have chosen this approach because communication is a timeless, generic need not limited to a specific industry. It’s not a trend that will fade out with time.
While we’re talking about communication, it is important to note that it is very difficult to follow a simple list of requirements, when selecting a new software solution. The variation in different functions is too great to simply just ‘tick them off’ without doing more thorough testing.
As examples I can point out that Groups aren’t just groups and Chat isn’t just chat. If you launch a brand new communication platform and all of your employees are lumped into the same chat – it won’t get used. If your platform requires employees to find and sign up for specific groups themselves – they won’t get used.
So, if your check-list asks for “Groups and Chat”, make sure that the system allows you to set up your groups as you want to, so they’ll be relevant to your company and your colleagues. Then, make sure the system is designed to let you set up rules to for example automatically add employees to specific groups based on their function or geography – or whatever is relevant to your business – as well as letting you add employees manually. That way, everything will be up and running and ready to use the first time a new user logs in. Today, Groups in Ziik is the most used feature across all our clients and it works either way.
As mentioned above, your colleagues won’t have to do much to get started with Ziik. In fact, they just have to log in and go, with everything they need to communicate with colleagues and relevant managers already set up. Our unique market position is to drive real engagement through communication and by enabling users to find and access the information they need, when they need it.
By doing this, Ziik has become a true asset to employees. A helpful tool that makes their workdays easier and more fun. The unique hierarchy and mix of features result in every Ziik user actively contributing to generating content that is relevant for their company and coworkers. The end result is a bottom-up approach that ultimately requires fewer resources from central management to drive and operate.
The app has been immensely valuable to our employees. My guess is that 99% actively use the app, while those of us who often publish and update manuals are very happy that there is also a desktop version - William Engman, Bastard Burgers
We believe that true engagement is driven by motivation. Users will want to open Ziik and interact with the content because it is meaningful and valuable to them. If you want to measure employee engagement with Ziik, you can add read receipts to important posts and messages. In addition you can see all user statistics directly on the platform.
This is a more truthful measure of engagement than pestering your colleagues with questionnaires and handing out virtual medals based on how many they complete. Just think about it: Which company has the most engaged employees, the one that can see employees logging in to Ziik two or three times a day to solve actual business critical tasks, communicate with colleagues or access FAQs? Or the one that uses questionnaires and tests to be able to document that their employees have in fact understood their processes?
Ziik is app-based (both iOS and Android) because that allows us to create a user experience that gets as close to perfect as possible, which ensures that people on the ground use it as they go-to platform. We can also use push messages and notifications on messages from HQ – just like people are used to from social media. This creates the perfect balance between push and pull.
And you won’t have to adapt your company to suit a specific setup, you’ll have the freedom to tailor the platform to your company structure and workflows.
If you need to add tools for e-learning, shift scheduling, checklists or something else, we have a number of partners we can integrate with, or we can add quick-links to external systems and apps. That way, you can be certain that you are always utilizing the very latest best-of-breed technology to give you the functionality your organization needs – nothing more, nothing less.
There are no compromises because each solution has been chosen for their focused approach to solving a particular problem. And if that’s not enough, you can even create your own integrations through our REST API (ask your IT department). In short, you get to cherry pick your solutions to create your ideal setup.
I hope you’ve found this small guide useful. And if you have become curious about Ziik, please visit ziik.io to start a free 30-day trial or to book an online demo.