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Business instant messaging is a relatively new communication tool but it is quickly growing in its use in the workplace, in large and small businesses alike. I use it in my small business and have found it to be a handy business tool when used properly. Probably one of the greatest benefits to business instant messaging is the time-saving factor.
When you are in the middle of a project and have a quick question for someone from another department, you could pick up the phone, find their extension number, dial it, say hi (if they are available, if not you have to try back), ask your question, wait if they have to look something up, get your answer, say thanks and bye. That can take a lot of valuable time out of your work day.
But with business instant messaging, you open a chat window, type your question, and receive a response. If they have to look it up, you can continue working without the interruption of a phone conversation to side track your attention.
Instant messages can be answered when you’re on the phone, in the middle of another project, on a conference call, etc. I find it to be the least interruptive form of communication for many quick questions I have throughout the day. In addition, there are many add on tools that increase its usefulness like file sharing, voice chat which can replace conference calls, video chat which can reduce business travel, co-browse that lets you quickly guide folks to the right website, etc.
Many people still hold the misconception that IM is only for teenagers chatting on the web. But with all of the features, and especially the security, instant messaging is rapidly becoming an amazing tool for the workplace. Business instant messaging is definitely here to stay!
As information security becomes more and more necessary, many businesses are realizing that instant messenger security is no longer an option. Small businesses are even shifting to secure instant messaging as prices are dropping dramatically.
Old way: public instant messenger
Many businesses still use free, public instant messengers for day-to-day communications. This makes sense: employees are already familiar with the technology and interface, and it’s hard to beat a free service.
But employees often spend time chatting with friends and family, so companies suffer from productivity losses in this scenario.
What about the security risks? Attackers can easily send files containing viruses, impersonate employees, or just ask for information. This is becoming more and more common as attackers are getting smarter about what companies use what technologies for communication.
New way: enterprise instant messaging
Companies large and small are now reaching for business instant messaging tools that they can control. And costs are plummeting: for example, one award winning enterprise instant messenger is just a few dollars per employee per month (http//:brosix.com).
These tools provide considerable instant messenger security by simply limiting who employees can talk to and by scanning files that have been transferred for viruses.
With PCI compliance quickly becoming more and more of an issue, companies are looking at more than how software handles data; but also how employees handle data as well. Instant messenger security is more of an issue than even now that companies rely on this technology for day-to-day communication.
With inexpensive easy-to-implement solutions available, small and large businesses are reaching for enterprise solutions for instant messenger security.
I’ve seen it happen before: you try to send a quick note to someone via the instant messenger, a short conversation ensues, and the next thing you know someone’s really ticked off. How did that happen? What did you say to get them that mad?
This is fairly typical and happens on a regular basis, especially when two people don’t know each other very well. One word on the instant messenger can hit a nerve on the other end and make someone think that you are being bossy, rude, or inconsiderate. One word: emoticons.
Emoticons are those little smiley faces you see in chats. While you CAN over-do emoticons, usually it’s better to be safe than sorry.
There are lots of versions. Beer smileys, heart smileys, barf smileys, you name it and there’s a smiley for the occasion. But not all smileys are good for business communication.
I find that I tend to reach for just a few:
Of course, other emoticons can work, too. Just remember, if the person on the other end of the line does not know you, you should keep the communication simple and light. Even if you need to emphasize a point, you can be clear and follow up with an emoticon to prevent the person from misunderstanding.
I’m a techie. Everybody that knows me understands this simple fact. I won’t go so far as to call me a nerd, but geek is within the relm of reason.
What this translates to in the office is that I get asked a lot of technical questions. Sometimes it’s “Hey Justyn, how did you get that one thing in Excel?” or “Hey Justyn, why doesn’t my printer work” or my personal favorite “Hey Justyn, I think I broke the internet. Can you fix it?”
Instead of getting away from my desk, I use screen sharing software to quickly SHOW people what to do. Fortunately, Brosix – our enterprise instant messenger – has screen sharing built right in. I just chat, click the screen share button, fix the problem, and move on.
If you haven’t converted to Brosix at your business yet – and you will – then you have a few other options at your disposal. The only one I’m willing to discuss is Team Viewer. You can have your work mate log in to the website, download the client, and in a few minutes you are sharing screens.
Of course, this is a whole lot of headache compared to screen sharing right out of your instant messenger.
As instant messaging slowly creeps towards 75% of all my communications with my work mates, I am needing all the help I can get to stay efficient. One of the problems I have been running into lately is that I have so many windows open and reaching for the mouse, clicking on the window I want to type in, and putting my hands back on the keyboard is wasting my time!
Sound a bit OCD? Well, you’re talking to the guy who learned to type in Dvorak just to increase his efficiency at typing. ANYTHING I can do to save a few keystrokes or reduce movements adds up to big savings later.
This is no new trick, but it’s good to revisit basics sometimes. When you have multiple windows open, you can click your Alt + Tab keys to switch between windows. This works brilliantly for instant messaging at work.
Here’s what I do: I use my left hand to Alt+Tab through my open messenger windows until I get to chat I want to type in. I actually use my thumb on the Alt key and pinky finger on the Tab key.
The result is that I don’t have to take my hands out of the typing position. This means I can VERY quickly type, Alt+Tab, type, etc.
Every little bit helps!