Today’s technology provides a range of communication channels unthinkable even a decade ago – each with a different purpose and perspective. With so many platforms for delivery, the emerging challenge is to help users avoid getting lost in an IC jungle.
Martin Smith reviews Beem – a mobile app aiming to pull need-to-know work information into a single place.
It is funny how times change.
For years, communications professionals have been trying to find the ideal recipe for communicating effectively with colleagues.
Indeed, the experimental blending of ingredients remains ongoing – and as channels proliferate, the task of finding the perfect mix becomes ever more complex.
Yammer, Pintrest, intranet, e-bulletin, staff magazines, RSS feeds, industry websites, company TV, webcasts… with so many tools in the communications box, head-scratching about information being ‘siloed’ is becoming common place.
Concerns about too many ways of accessing information are often raised to our specialists at Headlines.
Review your own habits. Checking email, external social media feeds, an enterprise social network and the intranet is now the routine – visiting numerous channels, before even considering print communication.
Such a fragmented approach can dilute the audience’s interest – many discouraged by the volume of choice.
Understanding this evolution of the comms challenge, it was inevitable that someone would soon invent an app to sort it.
Step forward, Beem.
Based in central London, the business states that “connecting people and sharing content is easy with Beem”. So what is it?
Quite simply, a mobile app (a tablet version is in the pipeline) that pulls work-related information – internal and external – into a single location on your phone.
Email is not included, but almost every other feed can be piped through the Beem mechanism.
Yammer feed? Tick.
The latest news from your company intranet? Done.
Industry-relevant hashtags from Twitter? Not a problem.
External news stories? Certainly.
The list goes on – and everyone can be accessed through a single smartphone app. It’s that simple.
Beem draws information from a wide variety of sources, allowing employees to consume content in real-time.
It delivers content in a simple and visual manner – a must for today’s employee base, with Generation Y becoming ever more prominent in the working environment.
It has social elements too, aimed at helping increase collaboration between colleagues.
The ‘Beem It’ functionality allows users to post pictures and wording directly into the system, which is then shared among the community.
It’s a clever touch, adding a vital element of interaction to the app.
And, as with the major social providers, you can rate articles.
Another road-mapped development will allow Beem to understand your preferences, allowing advanced algorithms to promote the content relevant to individual taste.
Aesthetically it’s a dream, particularly on the iOS version. This primarily comes from a ‘Weebo’ – a mixture of wheel and rainbow – which clearly signposts channels in an engaging manner.
Alas, the Weebo is not yet available on the Android version, which lacks the visual panache of its iOS equivalent.
Lee Lomax, who co-founded Beem with Phil Mundy, says the business is investing heavily in its Android offering.
He said: “The Apple development environment is much more stable and when you’re an agile company releasing multiple versions of your product, it’s an accurate quality control benchmark.
“Beem on Android has really come on leaps and bounds over the past couple of months. Many mobile technology companies remain on iOS for 12 months before expanding device coverage.”
As with all apps, Beem is a work in progress and will be constantly evolving and innovating.
The idea is strong and, refreshingly, the app’s small in-house team has a deep-rooted understanding of the challenges internal communications professionals face.
Work is ongoing to refine the product, making it a more user-friendly experience across the board.
The web-based dashboard – which allows customisation of the app and provides invaluable metrics – is certainly an element that needs attention. With the front end of the product being so slick, the administration offering is comparatively clunky.
Lee was keen to stress that this part of the project is scheduled for an overhaul in the near future.
He added: “We’ve been accelerating at such speed and refining the mobile end of the product, which has meant that the use case of the web dashboard becomes less defined.
“That being said, we have some nice plans to revolutionise this area of the product, especially around concepts such as workflow and content management.”
But these are relatively minor quibbles. Beem can deliver content in a way that we know our audiences will want to consume it. And, just as importantly, it does it with real style.
It needs to be refined, of course, but the obvious potential is there for all to see – even at this early stage.
Platform: iOS. Android.
With almost everyone having a smartphone these days, the need to succinctly deliver engaging content on-the-go is becoming ever more prominent for internal comms professionals.
Beem steps up to the plate – and delivers. It is slick and eye-catching, an impressive mix of bright visuals and robust functionality.
It does need to be finessed in certain areas but the days of fragmented content may just be a thing of the past.
• Disclaimer. While we have endeavoured to provide a candid and objective review of the app, we should point out that Headlines has an interest as a supplier of Beem to the IC sector. If you would like more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org