Twenty-five years ago, when you wanted to ask your co-worker a question, you popped your head into their office or cubicle.
Today, modern technology has facilitated business communication in such a way that employees no longer need to leave their desks, but instead opt to communicate through various tech tools including IM, or Instant Messaging. Let’s take a look at how these tools are changing the way businesses communicate.
Recent studies have shown that people under 35 years old prefer instant messaging over email. Instant messaging is hardly a new concept. In fact, it was a feature that most people familiarized themselves with during their first foray into digital space (think AOL). What is a fairly new idea, however, is introducing IMs to the corporate communications landscape. In other words, “instant messaging for business.”
A challenging platform
One of the reasons why IMs never found a place in business is because of their lack of security and traceability. For many years, corporate America tried to put the kibosh on constant contact like IMs. It simply wasn’t a reliable means of communication.
Unfortunately for many companies, employees were not willing to give up streamlining communication. Thus, many organizations found their staff downloading their own IM apps (all of which are developed for personal consumer use).
Now a commonplace tool for communication, companies are finding ways to leverage instant messaging across a variety of business sectors. To improve overall communications, both internal and external, organizations have looked into customizing the software to make it a suitable channel for business.
Enterprise instant messaging
Now that organizations have caught on to the necessity of a communication channel like instant messaging, they are developing new tools to revolutionize the software with branded traceability. Otherwise known as EIM (Enterprise Instant Messaging), the following are a few ways in which this technology is revolutionizing business communication:
- Simplifies data retention policies. Some companies (particularly those in the health and financial sector) have strict policies about record retention. New development in enterprise IM software simplifies compliance. Changes in message archiving and access have allowed companies in these specific industries to overcome the challenges of a consumer-based platform like instant messaging.
- Secure file and data sharing. The largest concern when customizing IM programs is security. Enterprise fashioned platforms entail a level of encryption that makes instant messaging suitable for the most secret of messages. Managers can now have peace of mind when sensitive data is shared over an instant messaging channel.
- Encourages collaboration and communication. It is no secret that texting and instant messages are the easiest forms of modern communication. In a digital world, many companies now operate with remote and satellite offices. Thus these forms of spontaneous communication are almost essential to the success of these particular businesses.
At times, technology can be forced upon people, but in the case of IM, it is being forced onto the business by the people. Business will benefit greatly from enterprise instant messaging as long as the information is protected and retained. Adopting a streamlined form of communication that is widely accepted by your employees can only add to your company’s bottom line.
7 IM Services for Small Business
There are several instant messaging options for small business owners. The best program will depend on the needs of your business. For example:
Basic chat functions
For quick project communication, many small business owners rely on simple platforms like Skype or Zoom, which are quicker than sending an email and can allow you to chat by text, voice, or video.
Team communication and file sharing
If you need to communicate with multiple team members and share important project files, some options include HipChat, Slack, and Campfire. Each one allows you to set up ‘chat rooms’ to ensure that conversations are organized and access granted only to those who are authorized.
Going to the next level, if you want to not only chat and exchange files but also keep track of specific projects and tasks, you may opt for the messaging capabilities found in various project management software. For example, Basecamp and Asana allow you to communicate within tasks; just use @, then the person’s user name, and they will get an email notification about the chat message. Keeping these chats within project-specific areas (instead of email or simple chat programs) allows your team to keep all project communication and files in one place.