Mark McDermott thinks he can get employees to pay attention. Since founding ScreenCloud, a global digital signage platform helping more than 8,500 businesses communicate content via digital screens, he’s been determined to rethink how teams communicate during the workday, given that 54 percent of U.S. office workers believe that distractions affect their performance.
In 2015, McDermott launched ScreenCloud, along with co-founders David Hart and Luke Hubbard, intending to disrupt the age-old hardware-first digital signage industry. Where incumbent industry solutions focused on intricate and expensive hardware siloed to IT professionals, he claims that ScreenCloud’s mission has always been to put the power of the software solution in the hands of marketers. Digital Signage Connection caught up with McDermott to discuss his thoughts on workplace communication, productivity and how to generally cut through the clutter of modern daily life with unique problem solving and an ambient content approach.
Q: Will you please expand on how and why the adoption of new technology is not a one-size-fits-all solution for internal communications?
A: In today’s age of rapid digital transformation, companies are quick to race towards the latest technology and software trends as quick, ‘check the box’ solutions to improve internal communication, and there are a few things companies should consider before deciding on the right internal communications product to fit their organization’s needs:
- IT infrastructure and security setup: Every company faces unique challenges across firewalls, SSO logins, Wi-Fi connections, and other rules and configurations that must be accommodated.
- Branding: Whether it’s an intranet or office entry display, internal communications collateral is a powerful reflection of a brand and should uphold all brand guidelines. It’s imperative that design teams have access to ready-made templates so teams using the tools can easily build and display on-brand content.
- Cross-department needs: Whether it’s an HR manager trying to action on employee feedback or an IT analyst trying to increase awareness of phishing to protect the company from security breaches, each department has a different set of KPIs they are trying to achieve. Adoption of software should be tailored toward each employee’s unique set of challenges.
Q:How can companies revamp archaic internal processes to streamline team updates and improve focus?
A: The first step is to identify the right tools and processes to democratize key company information and streamline channels of communication. I advise companies start simple and build momentum. Pick a problem that is almost universally agreed upon that requires change and start your journey there. One example is to rethink how you share real-time company updates, such as hiring announcements or award recognition.
Many companies today still rely on a mix of traditional software or channels to share key updates, meaning the news is buried among other updates, unread emails, or is simply unavailable to the full company — think deskless workers who don’t have a company phone or email address and are on their feet all day. How are they able to access the same content streams as office-based employees? Long-term solutions will need to effectively connect systems in order to surface this data in a more visual and public format to meet employees where they already are, versus piling on notifications.
Q:Do you see similar distraction trends in other areas/verticals beyond corporate communication? If so, which areas do you see technology improving focus and not monopolizing it?
A; Right now, we’re in a deluge of notifications. Everyone from friends, to family, to a restaurant, to a store we shopped in one time wants our attention. We’ve seen this in the rise of “beacons” as a trend (a type of technology sensor that triggers an action in an NFC-enabled smartphone), but who really wants to provide every advertiser within 10 feet access to their smartphone to serve them yet more ads?
One solution to limit distraction is a shift to ambient advertising methods. With this comes less distraction and crucially, less interruption. If you’re working in a coffee shop, you don’t want the barista to constantly interrupt you to tell you about their latest offers. But as you sit back and take a momentary break, perhaps you’ll glance up at the screens around you and read about a cool campaign or see a photo of something that strikes your fancy.
That’s the power of ambient content, or “information radiators” that work on a push, rather than pull, method of sharing information.