One of the areas in which internal communicators have historically struggled is measurement – particularly ability to demonstrate, or at least insinuate, linkages between internal communication activity and valuable business results.
In my recent research with twelve internal communicators – six in the US and six international – I see reason to believe that communicators are gaining confidence both the quality of the data they can access, and their ability to use that data to present clear and compelling cases for further investment in internal communication activity.
There remain some challenges. In some cases, internal communicators find themselves using measures because data is available, even if the measures are themselves tangential to business performance.
Time to seize the measurement agenda
While the plethora of analytics available from online platforms and email analytic packages generate immense quantities of data, internal communicators need to be in a position to seize the measurement agenda and focus on measures which show a plausible relationship between communication activities and business outcomes.
Conversely, there are also opportunities to use data sources that aren’t based on IC channels to help track issues and language use in the business. One participant highlighted enterprise search as a particularly fertile source for information about what staff find important, pertinent and relevant, and also about the language employees use to address and discuss ongoing business issues.
One potentially profound approach that is emerging is the calculation of “communication factors” – agreeing with the business the rightful amount of credit that should be attributed to communications’ impact on specific business outcomes. There isn’t currently a magic formula or number available for common use. But the idea of having communicators and the business assign a numeric factor the the results – or at least to impact on changes in performance – could go a long way towards addressing the need of communicators to continually “prove their value” in return for continued investment.
There is no magic bullet – but internal communicators are better positioned than ever to take control over the measurement agenda, and start delivering harder numbers and clearer stories of impact.