Ever since services like Internet Relay Chat, Prodigy and America Online became popular in the 1990s, online chat and instant messaging have become increasingly important in facilitating communication.
It makes sense: At that time, the technology was truly transformative. It allowed users to converse with their friends and family members in real time, no matter where they happened to be—so long as they were connected to the Internet.
Seeing the utility inherent in instant messaging and chatting, many shrewd decision makers chose to integrate the communications tools into their business infrastructures, allowing their employees—and therefore their companies—to realize the benefits that came with proactively facilitating real-time communication and collaboration.
While both chat and instant messaging services have made considerable inroads in the enterprise environment, some businesses have been hesitant to adopt the technology, believing it does more harm than good when deployed within company walls.
The Perils of Refusing Technology
It’s worth noting, though, that history has proven that when businesses hesitate or altogether refuse to adapt to new ubiquitous technologies, the results can be costly. Just look at what happened to Borders, the international book and music retailer that was forced to shutter its doors in 2011.
Unlike Barnes & Noble, Borders didn’t think it needed to invest in its own e-commerce infrastructure, choosing instead to outsource the fulfillment of its digital sales to Amazon. This shortsighted strategy ultimately forced the company to liquidate its assets.
In this light, businesses would be wise to embrace instant messaging and chat functionality—the communicative technology both of the present and of the future—particularly when considering trends in worker demographics.
According to Deloitte, by 2025, millennials—generally defined as those born between 1980 and 2000— will make up 75 percent of the global workforce. These folk were reared on technology, and chatting and instant messaging are second nature to them. As such, organizations that refuse to allow these technologies may very well find themselves having a hard time filling positions in the very near future.
Setting the Record Straight
There’s a lot of misinformation and myth surrounding what exactly chat and instant messaging can mean for the enterprise. Because these two communication mediums are essential ingredients for success in today’s digitally driven business world, we thought we’d take the time to set the record straight and debunk some of the more common falsehoods associated with the technology.
Myth #1 – Only kids use instant messaging and chat.
While younger people might be more familiar with them, instant messaging and chat apps are so intuitive that there’s really no learning curve when it comes to users becoming proficient.
While older employees might be hesitant to embrace change, once they see how the technology allows them to streamline their day-to-day communications, chances are they’ll be more willing to give the new tools a spin.
Myth #2 – Instant messaging and chatting are time killers.
Some might think that employees use instant messaging and chat tools to gossip about their coworkers or discuss weekend plans. And to some extent, that might be the case.
But it’s important to remember that in the past, employees did the same things by the water cooler.
Studies have shown that when implemented into the enterprise environment, instant messaging and chat tools reduce disruptions. Chat functionality gives employees the ability to quickly ask the right questions of the right people, and as a result, idle chatter is reduced.
Myth #3 – The communication tools are just another app that employees will have to manage.
It’s true that in order to be successful, today’s knowledge workers need to interact with multiple applications over the course of the day.
But by deploying unified communications (UC) tools—technology that integrates instant messaging, email, voice, video and presence into a single interface—you allow your employees to access all of their critical business messages from one central hub.
Sure, it’s another app that your employees will have to interact with. But thanks to the technology, they’ll have to manage a lot fewer apps, particularly in federated UC environments.
Myth #4 – There’s no ROI on chat and instant messaging.
It might be hard to pinpoint the precise ROI that comes from chat and instant messaging. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
Since the technology allows employees to ask one another questions right away rather than having to spend time tracking each other down, over the course of a year, your organization stands to reclaim a considerable amount of time thanks to streamlined communications.
Believe it or not, organizations that employ 100 people can save as much as $920,000 a year because of UC and chat functionality. On top of that, instant messaging provides another channel through which customers can reach out to you, reducing the amount of time it takes to address pressing concerns.
Myth #5 – Chat and instant messaging expose corporate communications.
Sure, public instant messaging platforms can leave your networks vulnerable. But by investing in the right communications tools, you’re able to ensure that your company’s sensitive messages are protected.
Many of the chats your employees send to one another and their external business partners contain proprietary information. That’s why it’s important that you take steps to make sure third parties can’t gain unauthorized access to them.
But the fix is easy: Just find a UC vendor that takes security seriously.