In the digital workplace, especially in remote and hybrid workplaces, companies are increasingly moving away from email and placing a greater emphasis on more immediate forms of communication. In particular, as employees become more accustomed to online collaboration platforms, organizations have found unique advantages in using chat messaging as their primary form of communication. Here are just a few observations from around the industry on the rising importance of chat – and why channel partners should take note.
Why Persistent Chat Is So Essential
Chat features have been commonly found in customer service environments for years. However, persistent chat platforms are only recently being recognized as an important tool to facilitate business communications. Chat solutions allow multiple people to have an ongoing discussion simultaneously, making it more expedient than email. Persistent chat is considered more “social” than many other communications tools and can provide a virtual forum for spontaneous discourse. And persistent chat technology offers a new function in this environment that even a live conversation can’t produce: it provides documentation of that ongoing, multi-person dialog.
Chat-based platforms and applications are also being used more frequently to post organizational news, professional event information, company policies, HR information, or curated industry research – anything that needs to be accessible to large groups of personnel at any given time. As this all-access format comes more into everyday use, industry and media pundits have voiced some supportive opinions on its role as part of a business communications infrastructure.
The Industry Has Spoken: Persistent Chat Is on the Rise
- “Gone are the days of communicating mainly via email,” said Business News Daily’s Matt D’Angelo in a recent article. “Chat apps are dynamic tools that allow workers to engage with one another, share meaningful ideas, work through company problems, and better plan for your business’s future. They often offer task management features, chat features, video calling services, and other communication and productivity management tools.”
- The Wall Street Journal predicted that the popularity of group chat will expand, initiating “the defining turf war of the next decade” among technology providers, as per high tech editor Christopher Mims. “Group chat can facilitate more effective and efficient interactions, particularly among remote workers.”
- According to Matthew Finnegan of ComputerWorld, 91 percent of IT managers used at least two team messaging apps for business communications. This came from a 2019 poll of 200 IT decision makers at organizations with employee counts ranging in size from several hundred to in the thousands.
- In a survey of IT professionals by research and analytics firm Spiceworks, 42% of small businesses with fewer than 100 employees utilized collaborative chat. 38% of mid-size companies (100 to 499 employees) and 53% of large businesses (500 or more employees) claimed to use business chat applications as well.
- The Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) called chat the “favored tool of Millennials.” Having grown up with texting, IM, and social media notifications that push immediately to their phones, most younger workers find email antiquated. “They think it’s slow and cumbersome,” confirmed Andee Harris, chief engagement officer with HighGround, a Chicago-based employee engagement company. “They are used to using chat to communicate.”
- “The reason [group chat] has taken off is that we don’t work in hierarchies anymore,” observed Josh Bersin, principal and founder of research company Bersin by Deloitte, as reported in an SHRM blog. “These tools reflect the reality of how people work today.” In this light, persistent chat is a very democratizing tool, clearing the playing field by providing 24/7 access to a wide range of information for all levels of employee.
- Alan Lepofsky, vice president and principal analyst at Constellation Research, stresses that integration of chat features with other capabilities such as video, voice, and screen-sharing is key to efficient adoption of this paradigm. “We have so many tools, our day is just spent going from application to application to application,” said Lepofsky in the same SHRM article. “The goal of these new group messaging programs is to solve this fragmentation problem.”
- Sophy, a developer of mobile task management solutions, outlined a major advantage of chat as a business platform: conversations that involve a large number of participants can be reviewed at any time, verbatim. It creates an evergreen transcript of each exchange. “Despite the evolution of chat, one thing that has remained unchanged is the persisting nature of conversations and team discussions, and for good reason. Persistent chat allows users to revisit important information on the fly.”
Managed services providers who supply businesses with communications solutions are missing an opportunity if they don’t integrate chat features into their offerings. Similar to how texting – and even the use of personal smartphones – made its way into the workplace, chat messaging is taking the same route. Persistent chat is quickly becoming a must-have tool for organizations that rely on timely, accurate, and accessible communication. Channel partners should embrace this trend and add this rich capability into their portfolios.
To learn more about how all-in-one messaging solutions with integrated chat (alongside other essential voice, video, messaging, and collaboration tools) are transforming the way modern businesses adapt to remote work, download our exclusive guide.