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21 January 2015

January 2015 – Talking all things mobile

Since the launch of the Apple App Store in 2008, the popularity of mobile apps has skyrocketed – last year the average person spent over two hours a day using apps.

Despite their popularity, apps remain relatively unchartered territory for most internal communicators but Aspic’s seminar ‘Talking all things mobile’ discussed how to conquer it.header-2

The breakfast seminar, held at the Soho Hotel, London, presented a case study on Nationwide Building Society’s new internal app.

What’s the buzz about Buzz?

Kicking off the morning’s talks were Nationwide’s Paul Wheeler and Mark Gibson, who discussed the successful launch of Buzz, an internal app for senior leaders.

Buzz includes areas for employee, industry, social media and leadership updates. Developed by Sequel Group and based on our App:IC framework, the app includes a newsfeed of information from their other channels.

Nationwide’s decision to create an app began with the comms team’s desire to produce internal communications that were understandable, accessible and interactive. They started out with a number of key goals:

  • Make it easy for employees to receive and understand the information they need
  • Let employees access information how and when they want
  • Make content more engaging and interactive.

Nationwide also wanted to assess the appetite for digital workplace apps, by testing how employees would receive apps in a professional environment and whether it would bring about a culture change for the workforce

An app was the answer and Buzz was launched in November 2014 to a positive reaction: four out of five users would recommend the app to colleagues, with 3.9 liking the look and feel and 3.95 liking the content of the app.

What are the different ways you can use apps?

The Nationwide case study was followed by a rundown of the different types of apps available and how to go about producing them from Charles Fenoughty, Digital Media Director at Sequel.

There are three types of app available: native (built within the device), web (browser-based) and hybrid (combination of the two). Nationwide’s Buzz app is a hybrid, for example.

There are benefits to all, it just depends on what is fit for purpose. Web-based apps, for instance, are usually cheaper and more efficient, however less secure than native apps.

There are alternatives such as mobile access to an intranet, or it could be that you are using a platform that has its own app already (Jive and Yammer to name a few).

As Charles says, “The key is of course to ask the right questions to know what your audience wants and what you need”.

Why use apps … and why not?

Paul, Mark and Charles delivered a convincing case for using apps to complement (but not replace) existing methods.

Some of their key points included:

  • Welcome to work – better set your watch back 20 years”
    It used to be that technology at work was much better than our doddery home computers but these days are long gone. Thanks to this, employee expectations are changing. They want to see the same level of technological and media engagement at work as they have in their personal lives.
  • BYOD
    The rise of the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend means that businesses will have to incorporate mobile devices into their employee practices, sooner rather than later.
  • Mobile on the mind
    Nationwide found that Buzz had a 100 per cent take-up rate, compared to 32 per cent for their intranet, making the argument that apps are more appealing to audiences and therefore more engaging. As more of us leave our computers to gather dust, the more habitual mobile communication becomes.

But before you fire up your iPhone, Charles was frank about the fact it doesn’t work for everyone.

“It’s always ‘audience first’,” he said. “Don’t let the tail wag the dog and make an app just because your CEO read in the Telegraph that it’s trendy. The content you choose and the audience you have will decide your communications solution.”

And shhhh…

Charles’ closing advice was this: be secretive.

“Apps are successful because they have a specific use and perform a focused purpose. Be careful of others trying to jump on your band wagon and overcomplicate your app with additional requirements. Be precious and make sure that you don’t end up in a functional cul de sac.”

Next time at Aspic…

Three speakers, a host of apps and too many new year diet-ruining pastries later, it was time to wrap up the animated discussions and give the Soho Hotel their room back. Nick Andrews, Sequel Group’s Business Development Director, was on hand to thank our amazing speakers and attentive audience for such a dynamic seminar.

Our next Aspic seminar will be held in April. If you’d like to find out more please email

About App:IC

Sequel Group offers App:IC, which compliments existing channels by delivering news articles straight from your intranet or other news platform to a branded app. Whether you choose an existing template or go for a bespoke build, your app is named and designed to match your company branding. All content is protected with AES (advanced encryption standard) and, if desired, password-protected user profiles.