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    Is Instant Messaging Right for Your Business?

    By: Clay Ostlund
    May 29, 2015

    Although instant messaging was initially viewed as a communication tool for personal activities, it has begun to infiltrate business environments everywhere. Employees can make use of instant messaging systems to keep in touch with one another without picking up the phone or leaving their desk. If your office hasn’t adopted an instant messaging system, it may be time to consider the pros and cons it offers your employees.

    Robust, Enterprise Instant Messaging

    instant_messaging

    When we talk to you about instant messaging in this post, we’re not discussing the IM applications that people use in their personal lives; i.e. Google Hangouts, Snapchat, Facebook Messenger or other social channels individuals have as apps on their smartphones and tablets.

    Enterprise Instant Messaging (EIM) is a much different beast. EIM combines the features and abilities of consumer instant messaging systems, such as instant connectivity and multi-platform support, with the security your business environment demands. EIM programs offer a corporate identity (IM specific to your company, not a consumer application), an audit trail to track messaging within the company and administrative controls to block inappropriate content.

    Benefits to Your Business

    The question is: if and/or when should instant messaging be adopted? In order to answer this question, it is helpful to know the benefits and value it will add to your business. The obvious benefits come in the form of improved communication, but there are also additional benefits to your organization that should be taken into account.

    Productivity Benefits

    First and foremost, instant messaging helps boost employee productivity by streamlining communication and making it easier for your employees to connect. A strong EIM system provides every employee with an instant messaging application at his or her workstation. When employees have quick questions or need clarification, they don’t have to pick up the phone and leave a voicemail or send an email and wait for a response. Instant messaging offers an instant, direct connection to other employees. There are even EIM features that show the status of employees in a workgroup. If an employee is away from their desk, coworkers can see that the individual is idle or away and not waste time tracking them down in the office. 

    Another feature EIM offers is the ability to share content, meaning you can send files back and forth.  You can even share your screen, which allows for the remote side to see your desktop or a specific application.  This is very helpful when collaborating or when you need help with something your working on. 

    Mobility and Accessibility Benefits

    Some EIM systems are also mobile, which offers flexibility and extended accessibility for employees that are frequently out of the office. Various EIM programs allow for instant messengers to exist on multiple platforms, meaning employees can access the instant messaging system from mobile devices as well as their workstations, and even from a web page (requiring no applications to be installed). Now, when an employee is waiting for a client meeting to begin or stuck at the airport, they can send quick instant messages to answer questions or alert others of their delay.

    Customer Benefits

    In some business environments, instant messaging systems can be federated, which allows for status updates and instant messages to be sent to and viewed by people outside of your organization, including your customers. Web-based applications allow customers to interact with members of the customer service department via chat programs and video conferences. This gives customers the opportunity to instantly solve problems and allows customer service to get quick feedback on products and services as well.

    Quality Control Benefits

    One of the best reasons to adopt EIM, instead of relying on consumer instant messaging applications, is the auditing and administrative control feature. In the event of quality control, or to troubleshoot other issues, managers and users can use audit features to go back through chat logs and view exact messaging used in both internal and external communication in the EIM system.

    Instant messaging systems may or may not be right for you. Consulting with a technology services provider can help you assess your need and user participation and capabilities. For example, according to a leading EIM service provider, employees over 35 prefer email for office communication, while employees under 35 prefer chat applications. If you are interested in researching this option further, request to talk to a Marco advisor.

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    Topics: Office Technology, Business IT, productivity, instant messaging
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