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Business Instant Messaging is In!

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!

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Must Have IM Client Features

I’m an IM freak, amongst other things, and have a few core features that I reach for on a daily basis. Because I handle admin and support functions for several business units, I regularly need more than just chat to help my team get back up and rolling as fast as possible.

1. Chat – of course
At the top of the list is the ability to chat. No big surprise – it is an instant messenger. I use chat to quickly walk people through problems, answer questions, and shout out orders.

2. File sharing
I am always sending docs to people. Whether it’s an Excel spreadsheet, a technical PDF, or just a funny picture; I have to be able to send files fast.

3. Emoticons
Yes, I use the smiley on a regular basis. Chat is notorious for not translating tone. A simple smiley goes a long way to making sure people understand that I am not upset or trying to keep it light.

4. Screen sharing
When chatting doesn’t work, I reach for screen sharing as the next best solution. This allows me to either fix the problem myself or at least show my teammate the solution.

5. Voice conference
This is great if you are already chatting and don’t want to make a phone call. Just click and talk. It doesn’t get much easier and voice conference is indispensable when you just need to hear a voice on the other end or need to run some training for more than one person.

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Screen Sharing – the Ultimate IM Experience

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?” 

Right from my desk…

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.

Other solutions

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.