Audio and podcasting

How si:cross is chan­ging the inter­nal com­mu­ni­ca­ti­on of companies

The audio mar­ket is boo­ming and pod­casts have long cea­sed to be a trend. Mes­sa­ges via audio are spon­ta­neous, authen­tic, clo­se. What’s more, voice mes­sa­ges can be lis­ten­ed to asyn­chro­no­us­ly, whe­ther whilst dri­ving or wal­king, and we are­n’t then inter­rupt­ed in our cur­rent acti­vi­ty by a tele­pho­ne call. Unli­ke in our dai­ly lives whe­re voice mes­sa­ges have now beco­me an inte­gral part of our ways of com­mu­ni­ca­ti­on, the audio boom has not yet rea­ched inter­nal cor­po­ra­te communication.

Alt­hough some com­pa­nies pro­du­ce their own pod­casts, the­se rare­ly address their own employees. And this is exact­ly whe­re the start-up si:cross sees poten­ti­al that can be mobi­li­sed and exploi­ted with its micro­pod­cas­ting soft­ware. Last year, the team of foun­ders par­ti­ci­pa­ted in the Media­Tech Hub Acce­le­ra­tor and has been acti­ve in the B2B mar­ket with the si:cross soft­ware sin­ce the end of 2020. CEO and co-foun­­der Rona van der Zan­der explains: “Our visi­on is to make cor­po­ra­te com­mu­ni­ca­ti­on fit for the digi­tal and decen­tra­li­sed future of the working world. It’s not a ques­ti­on of estab­li­shing ano­ther medi­um - rather, it’s about orga­ni­s­ing things in a way so that we are thenn all bet­ter off. The com­mu­ni­ca­ti­on chan­nels should be made easier. We often see lots of vide­os being pro­du­ced and emails being sent to and fro whe­re the con­tent could also be trans­por­ted as audio-mes­­sa­­ges. That would enable the lis­te­ner to get away from their screen and have a run through the forest or go for a walk. Get out into the fresh air. And do that pre­cis­e­ly when I can and want to, and not be con­stant­ly on call and reac­ting imme­dia­te­ly.” Audio lets teams con­nect in a dif­fe­rent way and streng­then trust through trans­pa­rent and direct communication.

si:cross works as a mobi­le app that is available in the App­s­to­re. The work­force can access their per­so­nal feed via the company’s own licen­se. In order to make this as simp­le and intui­ti­ve as pos­si­ble, the feed can be clas­sii­fied accor­ding to so-cal­­led sub­ject are­as and thus pre­vent an „infor­ma­ti­on over­load“. The focus here is on the audio-mes­­sa­­ges and less on the time-con­­sum­ing pro­duc­tion of a pod­cast. Ide­al­ly, the company’s own audio plat­form should offer a good mix of inter­nal infor­ma­ti­on, know­ledge and pro­gress reports to which all or cer­tain depart­ments have access. As with other plat­forms, con­tent can be intern­al­ly lik­ed, shared or recom­men­ded. Ana­ly­tics eva­lua­te which sub­jects are par­ti­cu­lar­ly important for the employees.

Apart from know­ledge trans­fer, CEO Rona van der Zan­der also sees audio as having a major advan­ta­ge for issues rela­ted to the trans­for­ma­ti­on pro­ces­ses within the com­pa­nies. Many mana­gers need to ask them­sel­ves: how can I get the employees to join me on this jour­ney? How do I reach ever­yo­ne and com­mu­ni­ca­te chan­ge? An audio mes­sa­ge from the CEO explai­ning the next steps comes with a more per­so­nal touch than a stra­tegy paper sent by email. “Initi­al­ly, it was estab­lished com­pa­nies in the main who show­ed inte­rest in si:cross. It’s pre­cis­e­ly tho­se clas­sic sec­tors like banks as well as the con­s­truc­tion or auto­mo­ti­ve indus­tries who are now facing the chall­enge of major trans­for­ma­ti­on. But we are also now being incre­asing­ly approa­ched by start-ups who have seen rapid growth and would like to use the medi­um for bet­ter inter­nal com­mu­ni­ca­ti­on,” says van der Zander.

The trend is incre­asing­ly moving towards decen­tra­li­sed working which beca­me more appa­rent during the COVID-19 pan­de­mic as peo­p­le were forced to switch to working from home. Com­pa­nies with seve­ral loca­ti­ons around the glo­be face the dai­ly chall­enge of skilful­ly orga­ni­s­ing the flow of infor­ma­ti­on. With si:cross, col­le­agues can update them­sel­ves in the form of five-min­u­­te audio-mes­­sa­­ges and thus com­pen­sa­te for pos­si­ble staff absen­ces in mee­tings, stay in the loop about the cur­rent sta­tus of nego­tia­ti­ons and replace the time-con­­sum­ing rea­ding of docu­ments by con­cise audio-messages.

“For exam­p­le, we got to know a phar­maceu­ti­cal com­pa­ny that is visi­ting cli­nics and rese­arch faci­li­ties around the world and was regu­lar­ly wri­ting up the les­sons in reports. They then star­ted to include small audio snip­pets and also upload a pod­cast ins­tead of making ela­bo­ra­te reports. This was very well recei­ved within the com­pa­ny,” says van der Zan­der describ­ing a use case. This is whe­re the enter­tain­ment fac­tor of audio-mes­­sa­­ges comes into play. But the soft­ware is not only meant to encou­ra­ge peo­p­le to lis­ten. The par­ti­ci­pa­ti­on effect is some­thing si:cross regards as being one of the audio format’s strengths: “We want to encou­ra­ge the employees to com­mu­ni­ca­te. If they par­ti­ci­pa­te, they can all advan­ce and share issues. It’s pre­cis­e­ly at this point in time when we’­re all living in the vir­tu­al space that audio can real­ly reach us on the emo­tio­nal and per­so­nal level.” As the app’s con­tent is only inten­ded for inter­nal cor­po­ra­te com­mu­ni­ca­ti­on, spe­cial safe­guards were put in place at the backend as well as com­pli­ance with the hig­hest Ger­man secu­ri­ty standards.

Sha­ring of infor­ma­ti­on, demo­cra­tis­a­ti­on of know­ledge and inno­va­ti­on: how working life could look in the future is a sub­ject regu­lar­ly addres­sed by the si:cross team its­elf in its pod­cast with inter­view guests. If you would like to learn more, you can lis­ten to the si:cast for­mat here.

By Chris­ti­ne Lentz

More blog artic­les can be read here.

About MTH Blog

The media technologies of the future are already being used today – not only in the entertainment sector, but also in a wide variety of industries. Christine Lentz meets up with tech enthusiasts, established companies and researchers for our monthly MediaTech Hub Potsdam blog to tell the stories behind the innovative business models.