Markus Marenbach

Managing Director,
VANTAiO GmbH & Co KG.

04 November 2021

News seen from a new angle

More than 500 years ago Christopher Columbus coined a catchy quote: "Reliable information is absolutely necessary for the success of a company". But what about modern organization?

Haven't we got enough of it?

The question of whether there is indeed still a lack of information in organisations is certainly justified. Basically, information is omnipresent today. "In theory", users can find all relevant data and facts on the Internet via Google & Co. and in internal use via tools such as portals, intranet solutions, social collaboration tools or wikis. The sheer quantity of information is therefore certainly sufficient. But more problematic seems to be the question whether they actually reach the user reliably?

What's "new"?

If one approaches the terms, then the terms information, message or news are often used synonymously, i.e. equal. This is also perfectly ok. But the devil is in the detail. It's not just about the information itself, but about making the right choice for the right person in the right dosage at the right time. Only this combination can offer target-oriented support in the company's decision-making processes. If one of the parameters is not observed, exactly the opposite can happen – users become confused or the message even causes damage.

So what's the problem now?

Many corporate communications systems are not really old, but were introduced at a time when user centricity was not necessarily the top priority. User Centered Design (UCD) or Design Thinking may have been known, but were not consistently considered in the development process. In addition, many software vendors have only been developing their standard products user-centered for a few years, so the software basis in customer projects could not be changed easily and without considerable additional costs.

For this reason, various problems arise in the practice of information logistics. The following figure lists some typical examples:

A common everyday difficulty is the complexity caused by fragmentation of the systems. Instead of actually receiving the relevant information automatically, users first have to "visit" the various systems and orient themselves there. This requires so-called orientation or access knowledge, which is often acquired only after several years of work. In principle, enterprise search tools address this problem – but in many companies it is not solved in the sense of a smoothly functioning and accepted approach.

Another big challenge is the personal relevance of the information for the user. "News" is nowadays understood as editorially created news, which is generated either by the corporate communication or by a specialist department (HR, IT, Marketing, etc.). Of course the announcement of the latest business results or legal changes in the personnel environment are relevant for the individual, but for the personal work environment other messages are important.

What can that be? New things in the company?

In the following figure we have compiled various examples of relevant news for a user. The classic news is the editorially captured message of the corporate communication. This is top-down information that summarises important company concerns for a wide circle of addressees.

But news is above all also information from the various business areas or processes of a company. These are not created editorially, but are created automatically in the systems. For example, if the company wins a new customer, this is certainly interesting and important for many employees. This information is also already recorded in the CRM system by a certain status field or attribute. Only: Nobody but the CRM users will know about this status message. And there is often simply no time for editorial communication, i.e. manual entry.

Thus, in a practical discussion or in workshops, many segments can be identified in which information is available but not really known to the users.

A new kind of information supply

Based on these basic ideas and the basic paradigm of user centering, the idea of a news and activity manager was born. Together with various early adopter customers, we asked ourselves what it would be like if all relevant news for the respective user came together in one place and consumption was as simple as reading an Instagram story?

This is exactly where the VANTAiO Enterprise News Manager comes in. It is making the transition from a pull paradigm to a push culture. The objective is to provide the user with all relevant news "ready to mouth". The message centers on smartphones follow a similar principle, but the difference lies in the relevance of the information. This is not the repeated notification by Groupon or eBay classified ads, but news and facts with business relevance. Of course, the law of dosage also applies here: Users should neither drown in information nor be undersupplied. The golden mean is in demand – and we control this through filters and personalizations in the system.

Smartphone/Notebook are unfortunately not enough... TV Display!

Access via desktop/notebook or smartphone is today the standard way to use the system. However, as part of the conceptual considerations, we asked ourselves intensively how optimal accessibility of the user can really be ensured. Research results show that many messages need a repetition or reminder in order to be actually perceived by the viewer. As users, we have already partly developed "Digital Blindness" and unconsciously fade things out.

If the TV screens are placed at prominent places in the company, such as in heavily frequented corridors, in meeting and recreation rooms or at the elevator, news can be distributed very efficiently via these displays. In this context, the size effect as an amplifier is decisive. In the figure above, compare the presentation of the message on a smartphone with the effect on an 85-inch screen.

How do the messages get into the system?

The VANTAiO solution initially contains its own editorial data entry component. We paid particular attention to ease of use and oriented ourselves to consumer standards. Discussions with our first customers have shown that classic editorial systems can be easily used by power editors, but that they overtax the occasional editor. A quick posting similar to private social media channels is often not possible.

Our solution makes it easy for the user. Operation is intuitive, and the smartphone is also explicitly supported for message capture. This is extremely helpful, for example, when parking spaces are blocked or other spontaneous problems or defects occur in buildings.

However, professional CMS systems can also be connected via connectors. These connectors are also particularly important for all other information-bearing systems, such as SAP ERP itself. An important objective is automation, i.e. much no longer has to be entered into the system "manually", but is automatically fed in from the respective source.

Outlook – what's next?

The new VANTAiO solutions Enterprise News Manager and Enterprise TD Display were developed together with early adopter customers. This means that user-centricity is not just in theory, but was actually tested in practice at an early stage. The SAP Business Technology Platform is used as a uniform technology basis. This allows a very flexible choice of operation, i.e. data centers - in addition to SAP, also Microsoft, Google or Amazon.

In the next blog post, we will examine individual use cases and the underlying technology in more detail.

Further information

Do you have any questions?
Please feel free to contact me.

Markus Marenbach
Managing Director
T +49 6131 – 622280

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