Sound Branch Review: Smart Voice Messaging for Modern Work

In this Sound Branch review, David found a very smart solution designed to support organisational communication and learning through voice messaging.

Sound Branch review - voice messaging solution

Sound Branch will be an excellent addition to any organisation that is in “working from home mode” as it designed to use audio to communicate in an asynchronous manner. This means that if you have a question, query, task or a message you can leave an audio message for a colleague.

It eliminates the overhead of the all-too-often convoluted communications of e-mail trails leading to phone calls or Zoom calls to clarify what is required or requested.

Expressing your requirements or requests audibly is quick and easy and with Sound Branch it is made efficient and effective as well.

With a similar look to your LinkedIn feed, but a lot cleaner and crisper, Sound Branch is about making audio messages and more sophisticated podcasts to a timeline. It is easy and intuitive to use (maybe a little practice is needed, but trust me – it is not hard).

Audio messages

It sounds simple, and Sound Branch is pretty simple to use, but the whole Sound Branch platform is very powerful and well thought through to meet the corporate communication and learning or knowledge exchange needs of a dispersed organisation.

In short, Sound Branch is ideal for any organisation that believes in the 70 20 10 model and is looking to digitise that interaction between employees in sharing learning and knowledge effectively and efficiently.

This is perhaps one of the biggest challenges the new dispersed organisation will face in how to quickly and easily replicate the day to day interaction in the workspace or ‘learnscape’ (as Jay Cross coined it).[1]

Attempts to digitise this form of interaction in the organisational learnscape are not new – we have seen intranets, corporate wikis such as Confluence, boards such as Trello, Microsoft SharePoint and now Teams, Slack and Adobe Connect, as well as Zoom and other such video calling platforms.

Each has their advantage and their limitations. Trying to schedule calls is just one major limitation I can attest to and Sound Branch sorts quite a lot of that frustration out for less urgent matters, freeing up everyone’s time.

My argument therefore is that there is still something missing and we have an imbalance between synchronous and asynchronous communication and learning.

Yes indeed there is the corporate LMS or LXP and I am sure you would expect me to argue that there is a role for this piece of learning technology beyond pushing out content or acting as a content hub.

The role for the LMS or LXP is to make accessible the organisation’s learning assets and identify the gaps in them, but secondly (and crucially often lacking in my view) to hold the organisation’s expertise, to allow individuals to find other individuals in the organisation who know how things are done round here (Kotter’s[2] shorthand definition of an organisation’s culture) , who are the individuals who possess the knowledge, can answer the questions, share experiences, can solve problems, can help people, (and yes do some digital coaching as well).

However, we need a new way to ask the question given the profound changes we are living through as organisations are being forced to change how they work, how they do things and how they work together.


Ease of Use & Incredible Efficiency

Sound Branch can play a valuable role over and above any of the above listed solutions due to its ease of use and its incredible efficiency of mediating communication by audio in a structured format.

It allows for communication timelines to be established, groups to be easily set up (from one to many communications), private one to one communications or wider distributions – there are plenty of permutations that will meet most organisations’ requirements and just so you know, Sound Branch integrates with Slack.

Slack integration with Sound Branch

Your audio message does not get lost and need re-listening to, as Sound Branch transcribes the audio clip into text. If you want you can add an image alongside the clip. Neat. So, before you send your question or query, or indeed make a reply to a Sound Branch clip, you can re-record the clip if needed. Users can like clips or report clips.

The audio clip can be sent to an individual as a chat. Individuals are easily selected from the directory of registered users.

The organisational use cases are many and varied. The benefits of Sound Branch are considerable and allow the evolution of node based communications with added authenticity of voice communications, but eliminating a significant percentage of the need for video calls or telephone calls.

Sound Branch certainly has huge productivity implications for an organisation, as well as giving users inherent flexibility to communicate without interrupting colleagues.

In these difficult times, how do new hires in an organisation interact with colleagues that are dispersed and/or only rarely in the office (and usually in high stakes meetings) without “being a nuisance”?


Creating Expert Networks & Reducing E-mail Confusion

Sound Branch allows for the creation of the expert networks in organisations at a level where interaction and engagement with experts can be controlled and mediated effectively by this asynchronous means, which eliminates the travails of e-mails that too easily become compounded confusion.

Sound Branch will allow a user to create a set of questions clearly and succinctly (as it can enforce a recording time duration) that can be perfected and dispatched to a colleague who can listen to or read them and answer in audio format.

Practical, simple, purposeful and very powerful in my view for all manner of day to communications, queries, feedback, advice etc……

Sound Branch users can create playlists and add clips to them, with a similarity to adding publications to your LinkedIn feed. The playlist owner can easily remove clips as well. The owner can then invite members to the playlist from registered users of their Sound Branch instance.

Playlists in Sound Branch

Alongside groups, Sound Branch caters for the building up of a network, so it can be used as a social learning tool as well in different use cases across companies and organisations. Permissions allow for permutations around invites and followers.

Sound Branch can easily create podcasts for organisational communication or as learning materials. A well-executed and engaging podcast is an excellent learning asset.

Sound Branch comes with quite a lot of back end analytical capability, as it reports on which clips have performed most effectively as well as generating a nice data about word usage patterns.

The popularity of groups and chats can also be analysed. A company user gets a useful dashboard where a whole series of settings can be used to personalise their experience.

The company can also undertake some branding with the application of a theme to Sound Branch.


In Summary: a Smart Solution for the New World of Work

In the opening words of this Learning Light review of Sound Branch, we noted it was a smart solution and indeed it is a smart solution, as it brings a simple answer to a problem that has been massively exacerbated by Covid-19.

Sound Branch really does have the potential to make organisational communications a lot simpler and save time for all participants, while bringing structure and allowing for analysis of the patterns in play across this comms channel.

The combination of audio and transcription is well executed and as our usage of Amazon Alexa and Google Home to ask questions grows, asking questions (and providing answers) using audio will increasingly come part of the modern organisation’s means of communication.

Podcasts in Sound Branch

It would be unfair to say Sound Branch was a solution looking for a problem, as the problem of organisational communication is not new, but Sound Branch really has found a sweet spot of a challenge in home and remote working.

The future of working has changed according to the Economist, who along with many publications suggest that this current crisis has accelerated the home working trend by 5 years, and it is very unlikely that all of this trend will be reversed. Oh, if you want to use video as well, Sound Branch has a close relative called ‘Watch and Learn’.

Learn more about Sound Branch, view demos of the product and sign up for an account on the Sound Branch website.