RSS, the New E-mail?
Many news Web sites and bloggers are already using RSS feeds to "broadcast" their content. Even marketers and advertisers are realizing the advantages of RSS as a means to attract potential customers. It's an easy, unintrusive way to syndicate frequently changing Web content such as daily blog entries or news headlines.
Momentum is also growing in the corporate environment for RSS. Organizations are beginning to see that RSS can be used to pick up where e-mail left off (or, some would say, failed) as an internal corporate communicator. One of the problems with corporate-wide e-mail announcements is that they can't be categorized. An important announcement concerning network downtime will end up in users' inbox, sandwiched between joke mail and spam. There's no context to e-mail messages short of the subject header, which is not always easily noticeable.
RSS, however, offers more communication control on the part of both the sender and the receiver. Senders can create topical RSS feeds based on different types of corporate communications, and receivers have the choice of which feeds they subscribe to. This ensures that employees only receive content that's relevant to them.
It's up to organizations to decide how to best categorize its RSS feeds, but some examples might include:
Migrating to RSS is also a relatively simple proposition when compared to other types of IT implementations. It's not necessary to install standalone RSS readers (known as aggregators) throughout the company. RSS readers are becoming standard features in many e-mail clients and Web browsers, or they can be installed as plug-ins to existing applications that don't already have them. This allows employees to get the benefits of RSS without having to learn a whole new interface.
|Advantages of RSS Over E-mail for Corporate Communication|
Shout Out! Podcasting and Vodcasting
Podcasting (audio) and vodcasting (video) are other methods that can be used for corporate communications, although they haven't been widely adopted yet. Contrary to popular misconception, podcasting and vodcasting are not simply multimedia files stored on a server for users to download. Like RSS, they're based on a subscription model. Users subscribe to podcast and vodcast feeds through similar aggregator software that can be set-up to automatically download new content when it's available. But instead of reading the message, they listen to it or watch it.
Podcasting and vodcasting are ideal ways to get messages especially lengthy messages across to large corporate audiences since it presents them with a much more convenient (and some would say, more natural) form of communication. It's far more convenient to listen to an audio podcast of a CEO's quarterly results presentation on a portable media player while going to work than it is to sit at a desk reading through the twenty page equivalent.
But there might be an annoyance factor when it comes to using a multimedia approach to corporate communications. Users who decide to listen to podcasts or watch vodcasts at their desks without the use of headphones might irritate their neighbors. What's worse is if several people were to access a podcast or vodcast at the same time, raising the noise pollution and tempers of the office.
There's no perfect solution when it comes to corporate communications. You'll never be able to reach every employee all the time because even if the solution is rock solid, there will always be someone who just doesn't bother regardless of the medium used.
It's the responsibility of the organization to inform its employees, and to provide the means by which it gets its communications across easily and efficiently. But as the sender, organizations can only do so much. They can only make sure that it's not the message and the medium that fails the user community. The receiver of the communication also has a part to play.
Each individual employee must be receptive to the message when it arrives. This is their responsibility. If they continually disregard corporate communications and claim, "But nobody told me," perhaps the response to that should be, "Why didn't you listen?"
Paul Chin is an IT consultant and a freelance writer. Previously, Paul worked as an intranet and content management specialist in the aerospace and competitive intelligence industries.