All posts by BroadVision

Group chat isn’t the panacea for those wanting to replace email

Chat, Chat, Chat…Short bursts of information between two or more people has become all the rage. Like instant messaging a decade ago, group chat is the current communication platform de jour. You’ve heard the names, Slack, WeChat, Hipchat, Redbooth, Facebook at Work, Yammer and many others.

If you are considering a communication and collaboration solution you need to first ask three basic questions.

1. What is your ambition? What are you trying to change or accomplish in your organization?

2. Do you want a one “trick” simple solution that addresses one aspect of workflow, workplace communication or collaboration; or a multi-function solution?

3. How important is a mobile-centric platform? Is mobile part of your workplace roadmap and employee engagement?

This is just step one. While group chat is generating noise, but are you signing up for the game changer you have been led to believe?

The very nature of the word chat says short term, disposable…informal communication. Many believe chat is the email replacement tool. Moving to a group chat solution is not the answer even if email has grown to be used for more than basic electronic communication.
How we communicate has a direct influence on how we work. Are disconnected and informal business tools the right ones to address complex problems?

Effective communication is critical for the success of any organization. One major challenge is the fixing or correcting of workplace errors because of poor communication. Using a chat tool, that perpetuates an informal communication style, will not address the challenge of moving today’s information into tomorrow’s corporate knowledge.

Don’t listen to us. Listen to an unbiased review of group chat from Jason Fried, Founder & CEO at Basecamp. Co-author of Getting Real, Remote, and NYT Bestseller REWORK. In his March 2016 manifesto – “Is group chat making you sweat?” he describes the FOUR positives and 17 negatives with simple group chat solutions.

According to Jason….

“…group chat used sparingly in a few very specific situations makes a lot of sense.”
“…the method and manner in which you choose to communicate has a major influence on how people FEEL at work. Frazzled, exhausted and anxious? Or calm, cool and collected?”

Jason is someone who has been at the forefront of enterprise group chat for over a decade. Chat isn’t bad, it just isn’t the pancea. Check out this video where we describe in detail Jason’s positives and negatives of group chat. Vmoso vs Group Chat

vmoso - and group chat

Chat isn’t bad.

If all you want is a persistent chat tool, you can “PAY” for any of the apps discussed or use a free instant chat platform like skype.

What is group chat good for?

It’s fast and immediate; if your team or group needs to discuss and hash out something quickly…chat will do the trick. It is a lot easier for multiple people to read, respond and discuss in a chat setting than clogging up an email in-box.
There is a sense of urgency and it is one way to circulate information to a large audience.
Chat is fun and collegial, but if ordering an Uber or a pizza while discussing a $50 million dollar business deal with the team is mission critical, then Slack is right for your company.
Group chat also provides a collaborative platform to build inclusion and create a sense of belonging. This helps build a powerful organizational culture. This is the ultimate goal, but group chat falls short in the long run.

Where chat fails –

But, if group chat is the primary method of communication across your enterprise you are not focused on the big picture.

Active or passive participation in group-chat can be exhausting. Unlike overloaded email in-boxes that require time set aside to scan, read and answer emails, group chat creates a feeling that you always need to be following.

If your team is communicating solely in group chat, the same problems with email are magnified but only cosmetically different. Instead of scanning email multiple times a day to make sure nothing important falls by the wayside, group chat creates the always on need to monitor.

One-line communication is worse that long-form email and more difficult to conduct in-depth discussions. The nature of business is to solve big problems, over time, with details. Big picture communication requires conversation not disconnected monosyllabic comments one line at a time.

Group chat is nothing more than comments piled up one after another. There is no real linkage of one thought to another. Instead of a pyramid being built, a giant landfill emerges.

Accessing knowledge or finding information is challenging. With most chat tools, what happens three weeks in and you need to go back and review an important conversation from two weeks ago; what do you do? That was 375 scrolls earlier. The upward escalator of fragmented pieces of information has reached the 100th floor. After three hours of searching you find what you wanted, but where is the context? Remember, chat, is an endless stream of short comments.

Collaboration’s value is in the discussion, but a discussion that arrives at a collective conclusion with action items and deliverables. Chat does not provide the context and platform to easily make this happen.

The basic concept of group chat is a positive step forward in powering a collaborative workplace culture, but it is only a small step.

What’s missing?

• A universal inbox
• A single source of truth
• No organizational structure to information
• No personal structure
• Inability to integrate outside of the team or specific channel created
• No file versioning so everyone in the channel are actually working on the most current document version
• No analytics
• Poor integration with email. There will always be late adopters who still rely on email to communicate.

Do you think these are important?

You’re ready to make changes in your organization and improve productivity. Don’t jump on the bandwagon. Take your time to figure out what problems you want to solve before implementing a solution that stops far short of where you want to go.

If you are leaning towards group chat listen to what a 10 year veteran of group chat has to say. You might be surprised by what you hear. Check out a video on group chat.

Productivity and Worker Engagement in the Modern Workplace Infographic

workplace-productivityThroughout history, technology has led productivity revolutions. The last fifty years have seen the greatest leap forward. But, the rate of increase has drastically slowed. Business leaders have to look inward to how people work and not to faster processors or fancy machines for growth. For organizations to become more productive we must change the way people work and leverage innovation to accomplish that goal.

Communication and collaboration are words carelessly thrown around as if they improve by the wave of a wand: but they are at the core of improving business productivity. The data included in the BroadVision’s infographic “Productivity and Worker Engagement in the Modern Workplace” illustrates the problems and challenges facing everyone.

Over the next few months, we will outline the problem, challenge and solution to the productivity challenge.

Check out the infographic here. 
Let us know your thoughts.

“Mobile is Essential for Business Communication” – Interview of Richard Hughes by Bertrand Duperrin

On June 3, 2016, Bertrand Duperrin interviewed Richard Hughes, social strategy director at BroadVision. They discussed business communication,  knowledge management, and BroadVision’s communication, collaboration and engagement platform, Vmoso. Read on for their full conversation.

Bertrand Duperrin : Hi Richard. Could you tell me what Vmoso is exactly?

Richard Hughes : It’s an integrated business communication and collaboration platform that helps people work together more efficiently. That’s not just about making it easy to send each other messages, it’s about organizing all the information that’s generated in those discussions so that it’s easy to find and navigate– not just now, but also months after the discussion has finished. I like to say that Vmoso is where knowledge management meets mobile collaboration.

Richard Hughes, social strategy director, BroadVision. Credit: Professional Images
Richard Hughes, social strategy director, BroadVision.
Credit: Professional Images

BD : What kind of solutions can be unified in Vmoso?

RH : There are five main components of Vmoso.

  • Messaging – both short-form, like instant messaging, and long-form, like email.
  • File sharing – most “real work” involves sharing files of some sort, and that needs to be completely integrated in to the same access control system as the messaging.
  • Social networking – some communication is obviously between small groups of people, but other communication is more blog-like, where a much wider audience can read and comment on the content.
  • Task management – when you ask someone to do something in Vmoso, you can be precise about who needs to do it, who’s included just FYI, and when it needs to be done by.
  • Contact management – maintaining your address book of all the people you work with.

BD : It’s clear that the digital workplace is a very fragmented environment. Did you design Vmoso as the response to this fragmentation? And, more broadly, what’s the strategy behind Vmoso ?

RH : Yes, addressing fragmentation is very much one of the goals of Vmoso. I’m really pleased to be asked about fragmentation, because it’s a subject that doesn’t get anything like as much attention as it should. People talk a lot about email’s failings, which you could summarize as (1) information overload – too many messages and inadequate ways of managing them, and (2) lack of accountability – the way you constantly have to chase people and ask them why they never replied to your email or did what you asked them to do. Most people recognise these issues, but they find it much harder to agree on the solution. There’s always another shiny new mobile app that they think will rid them of email’s problems. But everyone picks different apps, which leads to more and more fragmentation of communication and organizational knowledge across all sorts of different, incompatible services.

It’s worth considering the difference between “communication fragmentation” and “knowledge fragmentation”. If the people within your company use 10 different instant messaging tools to send “I’ll be 10 minutes late” messages, does it matter? Not really. But if those communications are carry corporate knowledge that you might need to go back to months or years later, that’s a much more serious problem. Which system was that sales contract approved in? Do you even have access to it any more now the person who wrote it has left the company? Knowledge fragmentation is a very serious risk to companies, and people have fallen into it with the good intention of trying to solve email’s problems.

So Vmoso is aiming to address all three of these business communication challenges, overload, accountability and fragmentation.

business-communication-bertrand-duperrin
Bertrand Duperrin, digital transformation practice leader, Emakina.
Credit: Gilles Vautier 

BD : Why did you adopt a « mobile only » approach? Fragmentation happens on every screen.

RH : Vmoso isn’t mobile only – it works equally well on both mobile and desktop web browsers. But the question raises a really important point. Lots of new communication tools are “mobile-first” or even “mobile-only” – mobile is where all the buzz in the technology industry is at the moment, and mobile is increasingly the preferred communication platform for consumers.

But business communication is a little different. Sure, there are certain types of worker who have benefited immensely from mobile – people likes sales reps or field engineers who are always out of the office. But we have to remember that in a lot of companies, the majority of workers are still desk-based – they’ve got a mouse and a keyboard and a big screen, and they’re naturally going to use that for communication instead of their phone.

So mobile is essential for business communication these days, but mobile-only would discriminate against a lot of workers. So instead of “mobile-first”, I prefer terms like device-independence and location-independence. Vmoso gives users the ability to choose the device and location that suits them best for the task in hand, enables them to switch seamlessly between devices and get a consistent experience wherever they are.

BD : So, Vmoso is not limited to Broadvision’s products but can integrate with many other solution?

RH : Yes, the Vmoso mobile and web apps are built entirely on the Vmoso API, so it’s entirely feasible to integrate it to your existing enterprise apps, either for backend data integration, or to add Vmoso into the user interface of your app.

So, for example, that might be simply to give access to a file store – we integrate with Google Drive so that you can select files you have stored in Google and make them form part of a discussion on Vmoso.

Or it might be something much more sophisticated – we’ve done an integration with SugarCRM so that a Vmoso discussion could take place in the context of a customer service case. CRM systems are great for recording who the customer is, what they asked, and what you did about it. But they’re much weaker about the collaboration that goes on in order to resolve the case. Consider, for example, the customer of a telco who has reported a fault their line and needs an engineer sent out to look at it. Even a small-scale collaboration between the customer service agent, the engineer and the customer can become very inefficient when there’s no single source of truth about who said what. So if every CRM case has a corresponding Vmoso discussion the communication is far more efficient. For the customer service agent, the Vmoso discussion is integrated into their CRM interface; for the engineer it’s available from their mobile device; and the customer could use the Vmoso web or mobile apps, or participate through email thanks to Vmoso’s email integration.

Those are the types of real-world collaborations that Vmoso is trying to make more efficient, and integration is vital to these, because the enterprise systems of record often form the context which triggers the collaboration.

BD : Do you see Vmoso as a collaboration solution, which is Broadvision historical market or do you think it also compete with Identity Management Solution… and, in this case, how does it compare to solutions like Okta or complement them?

RH : Vmoso is definitely a communication and collaboration solution. I wouldn’t describe it as identity management. Obviously there’s an overlap between collaboration and identity, but we’d usually expect an organization to have an existing identity authority – something like Active Directory. You can certainly use Vmoso without a directory server, but even in that case I wouldn’t describe it as identity management.

BD : What are the other market challenges addressed by Vmoso? 

RH : I’ve talked a lot about communication inside an organization so far. But Vmoso is also about improving the way organizations communicate with their customers, and their business partners. A lot of new collaboration tools are purely internally-focused, but Vmoso is very much about bridging the gap between internal and external communication.

As a consumer, it can be really frustrating communicating online with your phone company, your electricity supplier, or even big retailers. If you phone them, you get stuck in automated response systems; if you email them you can have to wait 48 hours or longer for a reply; and customer service via social media is often just a marketing façade in front of the traditional service channels. Vmoso gives companies an opportunity to provide their customers with a single point of contact for customer service discussions where all the previous history is retained for both sides to see.

BD : Do you already have measured benefits for your clients using Vmoso?

RH : Our assertion is that Vmoso can save you an hour a day by making the way you communicate and collaborate more efficient. Of course, the exact figure will depend a lot on the sort of job you do. McKinsey published a report called “The social economy: unlocking value and productivity through social technologies” on just how much time “knowledge workers” spend on communication and searching for information. They estimated that social technologies could raise productivity by 20 to 25%. The report is nearly 4 years old now, but it’s as relevant today as it was in 2012. It’s precisely the inefficiencies identified here – time spent communicating and searching for knowledge – that Vmoso addresses.

Of course, one of the things that makes it difficult to quantify the exact benefit is that nobody (well, almost nobody) ever measures how much time they spent with their old, inefficient system. They know something is wrong, but struggle to measure it accurately. So one of the parts of our Vmoso implementation methodology is to start with an audit of the tools and processes in use now, and from this identify where improvements are most likely to be found. Then, as the project goes on, we measure against those objectives defined at the start of the project.

BD : Thanks a lot Richard.

Bertrand Duperrin is digital transformation practice leader at Emakina, a leading digital transformation agency in Europe. He can be contacted on his website at duperrin.com.

Interested in saving time with Vmoso for business communication? Download the app for free on the App Store or Google Play.

Galaxy Financial – Private Wealth Management

Galaxy Financial Services is a global provider of financial services with headquarters in New York, and offices around the world.

See how Galaxy uses Vmoso in its Private Wealth Management division to enable secure, efficient communication with its most valued customers.

Read Transcript

Galaxy Financial Services is a global provider of financial services with headquarters in New York, and offices around the world. Galaxy uses Vmoso in both its Investment Banking and Private Wealth Management divisions to enable efficient communication and collaboration between its employees, and between its employees and customers.

Jennifer is a private wealth manager Galaxy. She is reviewing the overnight markets in Asia, checking in on what has happened in Europe and preparing for the start of business in the US. Troubling news from central Asia caused the markets overseas to react negatively, and the US markets will almost certainly do the same. Jennifer knows she needs to calm her clients who have diversified portfolios of stocks, bonds, real estate and art.

Jennifer sends out messages to each of her clients. She is able to send out a general message to everyone using Vmoso. She knows it will be secure and private while meeting the bank’s strict policies.

Jennifer receives a message from Michael, a millionaire technology executive who checked his portfolio and is panicking about the morning losses.

Michael explains to Jennifer that he is about to make a large real estate purchase and wants to have his agent in the financial conversation. Jennifer agrees that real estate should be part of his long-term financial planning. She suggests setting up a Vmoso chat and include Greg, Michael’s real estate advisor in the conversation.

Greg can use email to engage with Jennifer and Michael’s discussion. Jennifer suggests to Michael that by using Vmoso the entire conversation and information exchange will be safe and secure. In addition, the conversation will be organized for future reference.

– – –

It has been a few months since the problems in central Asia. The markets have stabilized and Jennifer has strengthened her relationships with her clients.

Michael has asked her about long term asset protection. She suggests that he includes his lawyers and insurance experts into the discussion.

Marcia and Jack, legal and insurance counsel to both of Jennifer’s clients are able to see the investment history and though process each client has gone through to arrive at the conclusion they want to use insurance to protect their assets.

Jennifer uses Vmoso to set up a task, asking Jim to propose what type and how much insurance each of her clients would need. The task will remain open until an action takes place and Jennifer or her client closes it.

Vmoso has helped Jennifer engage with her clients, keeping them informed in a secure, private communication environment, and preserving these discussions for her successor when she moves on from her current role.

Galaxy Financial – Commercial Loans

Galaxy Financial Services is a large financial services institution, offering a comprehensive array of banking, security, investment and other products to both consumers and businesses.
See how they use Vmoso to reduce the costs associated with commercial loans by improving the efficiency of their collaboration processes and ensure that a full audit trail of communication during the loan application process is kept.

Galaxy Health

Galaxy Health is a US healthcare insurance provider. Galaxy’s new CEO made it his personal mission to overhaul the way Galaxy communicates with its partners and customers so that it can deliver the best care and service to its policy holders, medical providers, agents and brokers.

See how Galaxy and their major partners have chosen Vmoso to streamline the communication involved in claims, thereby lowering costs and speeding up resolution.