Tag: mobile

To Chat, or Not to Chat, for Effective Business Communication?

“To Chat, or Not to Chat: …”

…that is the question”, to paraphrase William Shakespeare, but, in the context of effective business communication in a mobile-centric world, is this question really the one that you should be asking?

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“To chat or not to chat?” may not be the right question to ask for effective business communication.

It seems that business organizations today are looking to borrow from the consumer world and implement chat solutions to improve the way they communicate and collaborate. The main reason for this appears to be because that is what their employees are using to communicate via their phones and tablet devices to their family and friends so why not use their preference in this area to make it easier to communicate with colleagues across the organization?

We have been here before. A few years ago there was a drive to become ‘social’. Not to be confused with being generous to your local community, social business was about breaking down silos within an organization, sharing knowledge, fostering innovation and improving engagement with employees as well as with business partners and even customers. A variety of solutions emerged: Jive, Yammer, Clearvale, Podio, Huddle and so on and so on; all leveraging what was happening in the consumer world but bringing the capabilities within the business organization as an ‘Enterprise Social Network’ or ‘ESN’, i.e. what became known as ‘Facebook for business’ or ‘Twitter for business’ (before Facebook themselves started promoting their own application for business!) reflecting this penchant for all things ‘social’.

However, whilst there have been some companies that have successfully adopted these ESN solutions, for a large majority it was a step too far as users failed to embrace the activities required. Many saw it as another communication channel alongside email that needed to be checked and responded to or just used it for real social activities with work colleagues: organizing the five-a-side league; lunchtime jogging sessions; after work get-togethers and so on. That is, idle chit-chat and nothing really to do with knowledge sharing or collaboration on work initiatives; and, of course, many simply reverted to email as their communication tool of choice despite email’s shortcomings for effective business collaboration.

Today, with the likes of ‘WeChat’ and ‘WhatsApp’ being extremely popular as an alternative communication channel, organizations are now looking to embrace this type of application for an ‘Enterprise Chat’ solution to go alongside the use of personal phones and tablet devices for business use; what is known as ‘BYOD’ (bring your own device).  But this trend potentially could end up in the same place as their ESN solution. Just being yet another channel on top of email and that needs to be checked. So, rather than replacing email these ‘Enterprise Chat’ solutions simply add to the current communication overload and fragmented discussions prevalent within organizations. They may be useful for small teams on specific short-term projects, or even for customer service teams to engage with customers via a channel the customer has a preference for, but, at the end of the day they are not really doing anything to foster effective business collaboration and engagement or to drive productivity improvements across an organization.

Enterprise Chat might be something that organizations think they want to improve business communication and collaboration, especially as many employees are using their own mobile devices anyway, but is it really what they need, especially if the anticipated productivity improvements are not likely to be forthcoming.  Why add yet another communication channel when what is really needed is something that is in tune with the way people work today whether they are in an office, working from home or travelling on a regular basis; on a desktop or on a mobile device, that actually reduces the communication overload and facilitates the effective collaboration and engagement necessary to drive knowledge sharing and improve business performance. Chat is only one part of business communication so focusing on this aspect only might not be the best move in the path to true collaboration and engagement in a mobile-centric business world.

To paraphrase William Shakespeare again: “Alas, poor (insert Enterprise Chat solution of choice)! I knew him, Horatio: a solution of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy …”

Want more on this subject? Read 6 Reasons Why You Need Mobile Collaboration in Business and 6 Business Communication Trends.

6 Reasons Why You Need Mobile Collaboration in Business

 

Whether smartphone, ultra-portable laptop or tablet, mobile devices are more common in business now than ever before. While not every business encourages the use of mobile devices in the workplace, collaboration on these devices can be achieved with productive results. Here are six reasons why businesses need mobile collaboration.

1. Capture and share an idea while it is fresh.

How often have you been out and about when an idea popped into your head?  An Eureka moment! One you want to share or bounce off someone ASAP. You can phone someone, but as sure as “eggs is eggs,” they won’t be there. Besides you might want to share it with several people. You can make a note of it in your phone, but somehow when you look later, it doesn’t have the same freshness. So post it from your phone now to a collaboration space, and let your colleagues build on the idea.

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Embrace mobile collaboration in the workplace for increased productivity, efficiency and business velocity.

2. Deal with issues on time, but avoid “off the cuff” decisions.

You get a phone call about an issue that has come up. You feel you have to provide an answer because another phone call is not possible until much later, you are pressed for time, it’s a rush but make a decision anyway. Later you realise, on reflection, you are not sure that you articulated your decision well, and there could have been a misunderstanding.  In situations like this, wouldn’t it be better in a mobile collaboration tool, to acknowledge and accept the issue, perhaps suggest a preliminary answer but allow a little more time for clarification? Then you’re free to provide a more considered decision with clearer reasoning later.

3. Create “flex time.”

When I left Primary School aged 11, it was a tradition for the leavers to ask each of the teachers for an autograph and perhaps a written memento. My final year teacher wrote for me the Francis Bacon quotation, “A man that is young in years may be old in hours if he have lost no time. ” Mobile collaboration means creating “flex time.” With a mobile, in those brief (but previously inconsequential) periods of time, you can use those little intervals to deal with the many issues that can otherwise stack up during the day. Without mobile collaboration some of those questions would have come as phone calls, often at inconvenient times that interrupt conversations or valuable thinking time. Flex time means you can make better use of otherwise dead time to sweep away all those issues that can be dealt with quickly, so they don’t interfere with the more precious, larger chunks of time you want for spending time with people, thinking, writing, and the like. Far from adding stress, managed correctly, mobile collaboration will reduce the pressure on personal time.

4. Leverage the mobile revolution.

Everyone has a smartphone or tablet now – why not make use of that? In 2015 there were 2.6 billion smartphone subscriptions globally, and by 2020, globally there will be 6.1 smartphone users. Smartphones will overtake the number of active fixed-line subscriptions worldwide in 2020. More and more, people use their smartphones more frequently than their laptops and desktops for keeping up to date with events, for connecting with others, and sharing information. Most firms now either have a BYOD (bring your own device) policy or equip their staff with mobile devices. It is a no-brainer to ensure that you can engage with your colleagues, your customers, your partners, and suppliers on mobile.

5. Get access to people you have not had much connection with before.

The social capabilities of a modern mobile collaboration platform, like Vmoso, means that people, together with their expertise and knowledge, in and beyond the business are better connected. Information flows better and faster, decisions are quicker and better informed. Business velocity is greater.

6. Today’s collaboration is tomorrow’s knowledge.

In this mobile age, technology has encouraged us to operate in the here-and-now. With that, in our personal lives, many of us use mobile chat to communicate with our friends and family. Call it “chit-chat.” And in business we have been tempted to take that same habit into the workplace. But such “chit-chat” has no lasting value – if it takes place on consumer tools, it is outside the view of the company. And such tools are not designed to capture and organise the valuable knowledge in communication. A true mobile business collaboration platform uses the chat paradigm for its ease and convenience of communication, but also ensures the content of communication is organised, linked and managed so it can be searched, queried, and analysed in perpetuity. It is where mobile enterprise collaboration meets knowledge management, and businesses should strive for both.