The Best Way To Choose A Real-Time Messaging Service

by drjim on February 16, 2017

You need to be careful when choosing a real-time messaging application

You need to be careful when choosing a real-time messaging application
Image Credit: Sergio Aguirre

How many different ways do your IT teams communicate with each other? Let me count the ways: email, text, phone call, Facebook, tweet, and even some face-to-face talking. Having all of these different ways to exchange information brings up an interesting question for IT managers that we don’t have any IT manager training for – do they really need yet another way to exchange information? Interestingly enough, the answer turns out to be “yes”.

The Power Of Real Time Messaging

There are a number of different reasons why now is the time for real-time messaging to be introduced into IT teams. One of the most compelling is that our most basic way of communicating with each other, email, has broken down. Think about your email in-basket right now. Are there multiple emails that for whatever reason you have not yet had a chance to read yet? Do you find that your email fills up with worthless junk every time you look away? Email no longer seems to be an effective way for teams to communicate.

Even as email has become overwhelmed, the members of your IT team have started to use real-time messaging in their personal life. There are many different applications that allow them to do this: Facebook’s Messenger, WeChat, etc. The use of these applications have changed what people’s expectations are in regards to communications: they now expect to get answers to their question now, not later on. The older, more established ways of exchanging information can’t support this type of immediacy.

The result of all of this is that there is a new type of application that is starting to show up in the workplace: the real -time messaging application. You probably recognize a lot of the companies that are making the products in this space: Microsoft, Cisco, Google, etc. With so many choices, an IT manager can easily start to feel overwhelmed when it comes time to use your IT manager skills to choose one to use in the workplace. However, there are some good suggestions on how to proceed here. First, you’ll want to see what applications your team may already be using. Next, you’d want to trial a new application for a month or two to see how it fits into your workplace.

How To Choose A Real-Time Messaging App

When there are so many different possibilities, it can be challenging for an IT manager to pick a real-time messaging application for his or her team to use. One of the first questions that you are going to have to find an answer for will be just exactly what your goal for implementing a real-time messaging application will be. There can be many different reasons: boost efficiency in communications? Collaborate on either projects or documents? Off hour communications? The ability to reach mobile users?

The one thing that you don’t want to have happen after you choose a real-time messaging application is to have everyone else in the IT department ignore it. What this means for you as an IT manager is that whatever application you choose, you need to jump in and start to fully use it. You might want to consider blocking or at least limiting access to existing communication tools in order to motivate your team members to use the new tool.

One important point that any IT manager needs to realize is that this may not be a one-size-fits-all situation. What this means is that your IT team may end up adopting more than one real-time messaging application. Sometimes the lines get drawn based on the age of the workers. The key for you is to find the right tool for the right job. One of the big issues that will need to be investigated is how these tools work with each other as well as how well they integrate with older company applications.

What All Of This Means For You

As we have come to expect, things continue to change in our workplace. The people on our IT teams have started to use real-time messaging applications in their personal life and as our traditional business communication tools like email become overwhelmed, these real-time tools are starting to make their way into the workplace.

As IT managers we are often the ones who are called upon to make a decision for our company as to which real-time messaging application would be best suited for our IT team. When we are choosing an application, we need to be very clear about just exactly what our goal is – what do we want to use this application to accomplish? As an IT leader, you are going to have to show your team the way. This means that once the application has been selected, you are are going to have to go all in and start to use it. Finally, you need to understand that the right solution for your team might be multiple tools that meet different needs.

The time for real-time messaging in the workplace has arrived. Now as IT managers we are all facing the challenge of trying to pick the right one for our team that will help with IT team building. If we take the time to understand what the needs of our team are and carefully match the application to these needs, then our team can benefit from the power of real-time messaging!

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™

Question For You: If you implement a real-time messaging application as a part of a trial, what should your success criteria be?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Until someone comes up with a better way to evaluate the performance of the members of our team, we are going to be faced with conducting annual performance reviews. The sad thing here is that we don’t look forward to doing them and the members of our team don’t look forward to participating in them. However, even with these disadvantages, we still need to use our IT manager skills and do them and since we’re doing them, perhaps we should be careful to not ask the three questions that will cause problems.

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