The Güdel Group, based in Langenthal, Switzerland is a family-owned producer of high-precision machine components & intelligent automation solutions with 1,000 employees over 20 locations worldwide.
In this edition of Ask the Expert, we have interviewed Matt Roth, Digital Marketing & Communication Specialist at Güdel Group in Langenthal.
Often, the career path into communications is not entirely straightforward. How did you get into corporate communications?
That's true for me, too. Originally, I was a computer scientist, but after a short time I found out that the subject alone wasn't fulfilling enough for me. When I worked for a large telecom provider, as a project manager I slipped deeper and deeper into the area of customer experience and thus into communications. That interested me immediately. I then decided to get a solid education in PR. Along the way, I also worked as a freelance journalist for a regional radio station. With this wealth of experience, I'm at home in both worlds and can combine communications with IT, and vice versa. For me, that's the greatest possible combination.
You are responsible for digital communication at Güdel in Langenthal. What role do intranets actually play today?
It’s more important than ever! Today, employees must be considered a precious commodity. They change jobs when things are no longer right. The supply is huge in certain professions, so you have to take care of all your employees. The intranet offers you the possibility to do exactly that. Especially in internationally active companies, communication via the intranet brings us much closer to employees abroad. Without this tool, we would hardly have any contact with many people.
Is there also a negative aspect?
Very few, the expectations of internal communication have risen massively. If there is a new development in the company, employees demand more detailed information after just a few hours. This is a challenge, especially when it comes to editing and sourcing news articles. We have to make sure that we inform to the point and have the relevant topics on the radar early on.
How do you identify issues & topics early on?
We recently launched a newsroom. The newsroom concept is increasingly being used by media companies. All topics are summarized, processed independently of the communication channel, and only then distributed per platform. Of course, we don't have as wide a range of topics as a media group, but the logic works very well on a small scale. This gives the departments involved much more flexibility and makes them more aware of their responsibility for good communication.
What requirements do you have for an intranet today?
It has to be able to do much more than it did 10 years ago when it was enough to have a collection of links and a few generic articles. Today, such a product, like ahead for example, must integrate seamlessly into the rest of the system landscape. In concrete terms, this means that we want to link the intranet closely with our SharePoint platform and our Office 365 environment, because our Internet should be the "single source" as a search platform.
Employees also want to express their opinions and discuss topics, which is why the social intranet is more important than ever. The creation of pages or news must be so simple that as many employees as possible can edit content. This only works if the operation is as simple as creating a Facebook post. Otherwise, the barrier is far too high to overcome.
And finally, we want integration with existing tools such as Microsoft Teams, and to inform and be able to reach our "blue collar" employees in the factories through a mobile app. They often don't have access to a computer and atmost read content on their private phones.
In which direction will intranet communication develop?
Generally speaking, the intranet will become even more of a Swiss army knife, offering solutions to all the problems that arise in daily working life. The social character will probably become even stronger. Interactive communication will become even more important, whether this is "chat bots" I am not sure. People want to interact with people.
Breaking down language barriers is very important in international business. With ahead we are able to create articles in several machine-translated languages and offer our employees automatic translation in many languages. Personalized portals will certainly play a much more important role in the future, because individuality is also very important on the intranet.