Tag: vmoso

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.

Work more efficiently by turning off your notifications

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Two ubiquitous cliches of modern business communication:

We all complain of information overload and its impact on our ability to work efficiently.

and

We all love our mobile devices and the way they allow us to work any time, anywhere.

A quick bit of googling will find countless articles on each of these subjects. But what is discussed rather less often is the fairly obvious contradiction between these two. We bring a lot of this information overload upon ourselves by failing to manage our information consumption carefully. One of the prime offenders here is the seemingly endless list of mobile apps that want to send you pop-up notifications. As a result, we end up with a constant stream of unimportant messages distracting us from what we’re meant to be doing.

A study by University of California suggests that it takes an average of 23 minutes for a worker to return to their original task after an interruption; other studies present findings, and the phenomenon is sufficiently well-recognised to have its own Wikipedia page.

So anyone who is serious about working efficiently needs to take action to mitigate the damage caused by these interruptions. Both Android and iOS give you the ability to turn off notifications from each app. Neither is perfect, but both can significantly reduce the number of notifications you receive.

On iOS, go to the Settings app, and pick Notifications from the left-hand menu. Here you can decide which apps are allowed to send you notifications.

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For each app, you can turn off notifications but still get the “badge” indicating the number of new items on the app. This is nothing like as intrusive as a pop-up banner.

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Android is a little harder. Android 5.0 has an equivalent to iOS’s notification center which can be reached by going to Settings -> Sounds and notification -> App notifications. Here you can turn off notifications for each app.



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But if you, like the majority of Android users, are still on Android 4.x, you need to go to Settings -> Apps, then go to each app individually to uncheck the “Show notifications” box.

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The problem with iOS and Android is the lack of granularity in controlling which notifications you receive. At the operating system level, it’s all or nothing – notifications from an app are either on or off. So it’s up to each app to decide how much control is given over different types of notification. For example, BroadVision’s Vmoso app gives very precise control over which activities will trigger a notification, and which will not. Unfortunately, relatively few apps offer this level of sophistication.

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Of course, this problem is not confined to mobile. Windows and OS X both have apps that are constantly trying to tell you things, such as Outlook telling you about every new email message it receives and iTunes announcing each new song it plays. But top of my own “most despised notifications” list has to be Skype’s default behaviour of telling you every time a contact comes online or goes offline. Yes, there are a few times times when I do urgently need to know when a specific person is available – but I can’t get it to tell me that, it tells me about everyone or no one.

On the other hand, I do find this notification a very useful shorthand for seeing whether somebody is serious about managing their distractions or not. You only need to see one of these pop up to know that the user of the computer you’re looking at really hasn’t taken the time to manage their distractions. If you haven’t, go on, do it now. Go to the notifications section of Skype preferences and disable all the “contact becomes available” and “contact becomes unavailable” events.

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The good news is that both Windows and OS X are finally taking this problem seriously now. OS X added Notification Center in 2012, and the newly-released Windows 10 has the similar Action Center.

So if you are serious about the need to work more efficiently, take the time to address the distractions caused by notifications, and learn how to manage these with the notification features of your chosen devices.

10 Ways Your Current Communication Tools Are Wasting Your Time

The way we use communication tools in business today is riddled with inefficiencies and frustrations. When you add up all the time we waste working around these irritations, it makes you realise how long we spend looking for the information we need to do our jobs, rather than actually doing our jobs. A study by McKinsey Global Institute in 2012 estimated that information workers spend 19% of their working week searching for and gathering information.

Here’s a list of 10 ways current tools waste our time – how many of them do you suffer from?

  1. A co-worker sent you some important information you needed. But you can’t remember how they sent it. Was it posted on the intranet? Sent in an email? In a chat on an instant messenger? You search each one, and finally find it in the last place you look.
  2. You’ve just joined a project that’s already underway. The project manager sends you several long email discussions about progress so far and open issues. You have to start at the bottom of each one and work your way up to understand the discussion, filtering out the frequent off-topic diversions.
  3. You’ve been sent a document to review. You read through it and send back your comments. Turns out that the author has already changed the document based on other peoples’ comments, and you were reviewing an old version.
  4. You get an email from your co-worker asking, “did you get the message I sent last Tuesday?” You trawl back through your inbox, spam folder and recycle bin trying to find it.
  5. You’ve been on vacation. You get back and find 600 new messages in your inbox. You spend all day going through them, and find that even after deleting all the spam, most of the messages that are left are parts of discussions that have been entirely resolved while you were away.
  6. You’re on the train on the way back from a customer meeting and receive a question in an email on your smartphone. You know you’ve got the answer in a document on your laptop, but you’ve run out of battery, so can’t get at it until you’re back at the office.
  7. A week ago, you asked 10 people in your department to indicate acceptance of a new company policy. Some of them have done it, others haven’t. You go back through your email working out who has replied, and send reminders to those who haven’t.
  8. You get an instant message from a co-worker saying they’ve shared a document with you on a file-sharing service. You log on to the service, and can’t see the document so you write back saying you don’t have access. Turns out they mistyped your email address when they shared it.
  9. You get a question from someone in the company you’ve never heard of. You’re a little cautious about how to reply because you don’t know them. So you ask your manager who it is; they don’t know either. You write back, politely asking who they are.
  10. You’re out of the office. Your mail app tells you your mailbox is full and can’t receive any new messages. You have to create personal folders on your laptop and download all the messages from your inbox. But you can’t get a reliable connection to the company VPN, so can’t sort it out until you get back to the office.

 

We created Vmoso specifically to address these, and other inefficiencies in the way businesses communicate today. Here’s how Vmoso solves each of the 10 problems.

  1. As an integrated suite of messaging, file-sharing and social networking, Vmoso offers a universal search which will help you find a discussion, whatever format it took place in.
  2. All the replies in a Vmoso discussion are listed in the right order. If you join halfway through, you simply start at the top and read through the discussion to catch up.
  3. Vmoso maintains a version history of each attachment. When you update a file, all references to that file are updated, so everyone can always see the latest version.
  4. Vmoso’s unique system of cross-referencing creates an interconnected web of content – instead of making people go and search, you can just include a direct link to it, even if it’s a specific comment in a discussion.
  5. Vmoso’s activity stream consolidates all replies in a discussion, and highlights those in which you have been explicitly mentioned. So it’s easy to see what you need to read, and what you can leave until later.
  6. Vmoso stores all your content and discussions in the cloud, and makes it available to any connected device, wherever in the world you are.
  7. Vmoso tasks let you quickly determine who’s completed the action they were given, and send reminders to those who haven’t.
  8. Only a unified communication system like Vmoso can offer a truly consistent layer of access control across all types of content.
  9. Every member in Vmoso has a profile, making it easy for you to find out more about them.
  10. All your Vmoso content is stored in the cloud and available to any device.

 

To sign up for Vmoso, click here, or download the iPhone or Android app.