Good Enough Technology

Topics: HRExaminer, John Sumser, by John Sumser

I spend a lot of time investigating, testing, evaluating and exploring the latest in HRTechnology. These days, I’m largely focused on Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Predictive Analytics…the whole ‘latest thing’ thing. My chair sits in the future. 

It’s tempting to think that the world is racing to embrace my reality. That the goal of everyone in HR is to move into the future as fast as possible. That new and shiny is always better than old and familiar. That the logic of technology always surpasses the logic of the heart.

The extension of an infatuation with technology is “if it can be done, it should be.”

The other day, I had a demo of PoliteMail. It’s a simple, focused tool that tracks the behavior of email (particularly employee communications email) sent using outlook. It tracks open rates, clicks, engagement levels and other bits of email administrivia. They bill themselves as providers of “email communications measurement and analytics.”

You would have been proud of me. 

I started the conversation with a hearty round of “Email is dead.” “Don’t you monitor Slack?” “How can you do this without Facebook?” You know, the normal stuff of “you are living in the past. I know because I come from the future.”

Founder Michael DesRochers held his own. He’s a modest guy who has built a solid business by putting one foot in front of the other. He prefers to deliver high-quality repeatable services to winning the never ending game of ‘who’s first?’

“We are thinking about adding those new channels,” he says. “But, our customers use email to communicate with their employees. We simply don’t see the demand for multi channel employer to employee communications. We help manage, measure and monitor the performance of communication by email.”

In the really older days, when memos were paper and went through the interdepartmental mail, you could never tell who got and read the memo. The benefit of PoliteMail is that it lets you understand who’s seen it and how long they spent with it. A prime benefit of digital communications is that it’s possible, with tools like this, to measure and manage. You can know how effective your communications are.

Employee communications effectiveness depends on getting the team to consume the content. The favored approach among the intelligentsia is to reach out on the latest tool. Many companies are trying to be effective using multi-channel solutions. The problem is that you can’t measure monitor and compare apples to apples. A strategy that reaches everyone on their preferred media is hard to execute and harder to manage.

While it isn’t for everyone (and may not do well in Silicon Valley), PoliteMail seems like a great tool for HR departments that don’t want to be transformative leaders in technology.