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Improving Communication for Your Business Through Technology

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When you outline the biggest challenges facing your business today, having the right technology for communications is probably not the top item on your list. But along with making sure you have an effective communication style (more on that in this earlier post), choosing the right technology really should be a top priority. An organization that does not effectively communicate -- to its customers, prospects, employees, partners and vendors -- will likely not survive. In a world filled with a barrage of constant communication through social media, newsletters, emails and text messages, every business must find a way to cut through the clutter and get their message across loud and clear with the right technology.

Effective communication must start within the organization. Different departments will inevitably have different needs, and so it is essential that you identify clear goals for whatever you need to do and figure out what the best technology is for each application. For example, the executive team may require high-quality video conferencing for analyst briefings, the marketing team might demand a strong webcasting platform for product launch webinars and your engineering team may communicate best via VOIP or web conferencing. There will likely be no one-size-fits-all solution.

The communications solutions you choose should provide more than just the delivery. They also need to integrate with the other technologies you use at work, such as marketing automation and CRM. But what else should you consider? Of course, simplicity and functionality are essential, but there are other key components to consider that will help you choose the right communications technology and, as a result, cut costs and improve ROI:

• Analytics: Not sure if your message is hitting the mark? You need a solution that will analyze your messages and track if/how recipients are engaging with them. This is key. Honing in on what is working and what is being ignored is the most important factor in successful communication, especially with prospective customers.

• Accessibility: Make your content easy to use, of course, but also make it easy to access. And don't forget the mobile device user experience. Convenient access will lead to increased reach and impact.

• Flexibility: In our BYOD era, employees will use the technology they feel will help them get the job done, so be willing to adapt and provide some room for tools outside of your control -- as long as they are secure and allow for efficient communication.

• Boundaries: Empower employees to carry your message, but set up common-sense ground rules on how employees should use new communications tools. This will allow you to take advantage of all the new technology available but to also minimize issues like the dissemination of proprietary or inappropriate content.

It is paramount that your business keeps pace with evolving communication trends. Take the rise of video, for example. A report from Cisco says that, "Over two-thirds of the world's mobile data traffic will be video by 2018. Mobile video will increase 14-fold between 2013 and 2018, accounting for 69 percent of total mobile data traffic by the end of the forecast period." Those are huge leaps for just one area of communication -- mobile video -- that a few years ago was only just emerging.

An analyst we work with here at ON24, Steve Vonder Haar with Wainhouse Research, says of the growth of video in business, "Video has become ubiquitous. With cameras in the conference room, on the desktop and embedded in smartphones, the venues for creating video are now more commonplace than ever before. More organizations are deploying the technology platforms needed to transform any camera anywhere into a tool that helps executives to create high-impact business messages." Great food for thought when considering what direction to go with your communications solutions.

The good news is that today's technology can help you reach your audiences like never before. Technology that leverages popular media like social channels and video will help your organization to effectively communicate, exchange information, collaborate and market.

What are your thoughts? What communications solutions do you see enterprises adopting?