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Messaging and Collaboration: Are You Listening?

by Dave Moorman

For more than a decade, the media and IT experts have been touting the benefits of corporate messaging and collaboration as a productivity enhancer, but the adoption of these tools has been restricted largely to larger enterprises. Now, with the proliferation of smartphones, messaging both inside the office and out has become easier than ever, and the majority of office workers are already comfortable with at least two forms of messaging (email and texting).

As a result, small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are perfectly positioned to leverage this powerful tool for their benefit. Making the concept even more attractive, third-party vendors have developed messaging and collaboration platforms specifically for SMBs. These can be deployed on a smaller scale than their enterprise counterparts with a correspondingly smaller budget.

Many business-grade IT messaging platforms go well beyond email and/or real-time communication (instant messaging or texting) to include calendar scheduling, file exchange, and even voice and video features. Once a product becomes this extensive, it functions as a full-fledged collaboration platform, enabling workers to exchange ideas and information for brainstorming, sales development, training and more.

Of course, not every SMB needs a full-blown messaging and collaboration platform. In fact, if your employees are equipped with smartphones, they may have already created an ad-hoc messaging solution of their own, texting one another from various locations to confirm meeting times, find out where someone is or exchange other basic but valuable business information.

Similarly, if you use Microsoft Outlook or Exchange (especially Hosted Exchange) you already have a feature-rich communication platform in place—you just need to explore its full functionality and evaluate the other tools with which it connects.

The point is that messaging can be whatever you want it to be – from simple text messaging or office email to a unified platform where all forms of communication flow through a centralized gateway. (The latter solution is more expensive to deploy but provides security controls that are important for protecting corporate communications.)

The key is to determine what you need and how to implement it in a manner that is affordable but enables you to begin accelerating productivity immediately. In an October 2012 report, research firm Radicati Group predicted the messaging platforms market will grow from $5.7 billion in 2012 to more than $7.8 billion by 2016. Where will your firm be during this period of explosive growth?

Give me a call and let’s discuss how messaging can drive productivity for you.

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