Enterprise collaboration cannot subsist of messaging alone

By Rickard Hansson

In this digital age, instant messaging has essentially become a way of life. From the good ole days of AOL Messenger to modern means of texting, Slack, What’s App, Yammer, Jive and Skype, the options and opportunities for instant messaging are endless.

A Harvard Business School professor told The Wall Street Journal back in 2007 that instant messaging is "changing the way people collaborate” and companies "increasingly react to situations and problems on the fly, not solely by hierarchy” – an approach supported by the rise in instant messaging in the enterprise.

Messaging has brought countless benefits to the workplace. Aside from easily getting quick updates on current projects, it’s by far the easiest way to share funny Buzzfeed articles with co-workers and discuss where to eat lunch. Messaging also makes it possible for a co-worker across the country to feel like they’re in the next office over, effectively closing the gap between remote and dispersed teams.

If you’re currently using a messaging platform in your workplace … great! Instant messaging and being social is good for business. A study by Symantec Corporation even found that:

  • 55% of employees who use instant messaging at work say it reduces email traffic
  • 50% of employees find instant messaging more efficient than email

Even with these great benefits, messaging just isn’t enough. As efficient (and sometimes entertaining) as IMing can be, there are some things that it just can’t do that are essential to a collaborative, productive work environment.

Here are a few reasons why you should look into a more complete solution with a full feature set that includes wikis, blogs, document collaboration and file sharing, among others to help your teams get more stuff done. As the saying goes, enterprise collaboration cannot subsist on messaging alone.

You need a sufficient forum for knowledge sharing.

While messaging is great for one off-questions that need immediate answers and casual brainstorming, it’s not ideal for capturing background and knowledge that needs to be shared with an entire team. And for information that needs to live on, consistently be referred back to or dispersed across different departments, messaging falls woefully short. Instead, find a platform that offers wiki and blog apps that allow you to write entire posts and articles, share them and have them always accessible through intelligent search.

Document collaboration is too important.

Let’s just get this out of the way. Yes, you can share documents via most instant messaging apps. But what happens when that document gets buried under a pile of new messages or an entire team needs to collaborate on it and make live edits? Chaos ensues.

Instant messaging isn’t an efficient way to edit and collaborate on documents. A good enterprise social collaboration platform will not only have messaging, it will also enable to upload documents or native content so an entire team can access it, make edits in real time and keep feedback and comments in a consolidated and searchable location. Document collaboration is an essential feature for any team looking to embrace true collaboration and work as efficiently as possible.

Sometimes there’s nothing like face-to-face video chat.

There are some things that just get lost in translation or inadequately communicated via text message – in fact, 93% of communication is non-verbal. Instant messaging can’t replace good old-fashioned face-to-face conversations.

Video chat capabilities integrated into your messaging platform allow you to easily conference call with team members or clients no matter where they’re located, eliminating the chances of miscommunication or lack of clarity over information and next steps. Plus, it gives you the chance to show off a good hair day.

File sharing needs to be organized and searchable.

We don’t need to tell you how many documents and files can be exchanged among team members in just a single day. Without a centralised place to store and share them, team workflows become inefficient and finding the one piece of information you need becomes as easy as finding a needle in a haystack.

Searching multiple platforms cannot only take up nearly 16% of your day, it makes intellectual property retention a challenge. Enterprise social networks that combine messaging and file sharing enable your team to rest secure knowing all of its files and information are being stored in one location, and that they’re all easily discoverable with an intelligent search function.

Implementing a simple messaging platform in your workplace is a large step in the right direction toward building a collaborative workplace, but we challenge you to think bigger. Consider your holistic needs as an organization, team or department – what other functionality can your social business tools bring to the table to help your company “Get Stuff Done, Together?”

Rickard Hansson (@rickardhansson) is CEO & Founder of Incentive, which offers an enterprise social collaboration platform. www.incentive-inc.com