Messaging – Instant gratification is here

James Hourn On 01 February 2016

Messaging – Instant gratification is here

Right now in business, email is the most common way that teams communicate. According to the most recent Email Statistics Report from The Radicati Group, the number of business and consumer emails sent in 2016 will top 215 billion. It makes sense that we love email. It’s what we know. It has proven value. It’s not paper.

But you are probably familiar with the drawbacks of email as well. Keeping your inbox under control can be an enormous challenge. Entire books have been written on how to manage email overload and a movement built around the quest for Inbox Zero.

There is an alternative; instant messaging. For years, progressive companies led by the tech sector, have moved to this form while others have viewed it with something akin to suspicion. This distrust is borne out of the negative association instant messaging has with social media – the idea that it’s something kids do with their friends when they should have been doing their homework.

But in the last few years, instant messaging has replaced email as the de facto standard through which many technology companies communicate. And that trend is rapidly spreading to other sectors as well. At JobReady, we use it in a big way, with development teams rapidly communicating all day and keeping in touch with remote workers with ease. Typically, education and employment haven’t yet committed to following the early adopters, despite the pressing need for efficiency gains in our industry. I believe it’s time to get serious about this opportunity and here’s why:

Speed
Sometimes you just need a quick chat with your boss, team lead, or another colleague to help move something forward. With Slack or HipChat, you can quickly drop into a chat with one or more members of your team and get an answer straightaway.

After you’ve tried this way of communicating, email starts to feel clunky. Conversations flow much more naturally when you can see the discussion unfold in a chat window, rather than split across several emails in an Outlook thread.

Fewer Interruptions
Even when someone is sitting a few desks away at JobReady, we often lean on messaging to communicate, especially when the message is important, but not urgent. This avoids interruption, and allows people to respond to messages at a convenient breakpoint for them. We achieve this balance of healthy communication with minimal disruption by doing much of our communication via HipChat.

Fewer Meetings
We work in a collaborative-heavy office, but you wouldn’t necessarily know it. Our office seems quiet and calm. Virtual rooms have replaced the constant procession of meetings in the classical sense and we’ve gained productivity from it. Now if you see us gathered in a room it’s because that’s the best option, not because that’s the only option for collaboration.

Voice and Video Calls
Both HipChat and Slack offer various ways to switch from messaging to a voice or video call, and even screensharing. This is incredibly useful for us when communicating with remote colleagues in Canberra, Melbourne, Brisbane from our home base in Sydney.

HipChat has voice and video chat. Slack can integrate with things like GoToMeeting and Google Hangouts.

File Sharing
Whether you’re chatting with your marketing team and need to share a draft EDM, or talking to tech support and need to show a screenshot of the error message you’re seeing, messaging services make it easy to attach a file to the conversation.

Third Party Integration
Integration with third party tools is where the rubber really meets the road with messaging apps. As a technology company, we integrate with tools like JIRA to deliver real-time notifications when, for example, a feature is ready for QA, or ready for release.

We also integrate HipChat with third party tools that send us warnings when a server needs maintenance, when an application experiences an error, for verifying that all backups have completed successfully, and a wide range of other things.

Both of these tools can also integrate with apps like Salesforce, to receive messages when, for example, a new lead or opportunity is created and a wide range of other options.

Communicate with Customers and Third Parties
HipChat and Slack make it easy to enable guest access to a dedicated chat room for one of your customers or partners. This offers customers quicker turnaround time on their queries, and also scales better than a phone call.

Integration across Devices
Slack and HipChat work just as well on your phone or tablet as on your laptop.
So Which One Should You Use?

Both Slack and HipChat are good options, and both offer the key features outlined in this article, in one form or another.

For teams that don’t yet have a messaging solution in place and want to try one out, I would recommend Slack. It’s currently very similar to HipChat, but it has all the momentum right now in this space. The company has raised hundreds of millions in VC funding, and has a market valuation in the billions.

If you’d like to know more about how these tools can help your business, please get in touch:bradb@jobready.com.au

Brad Bollenbach

Development Manager, JobReady