The Evolution of Messaging: Beyond Voice and Email

The total number of worldwide email accounts is expected to rise from 3.9 billion in 2013 to almost five billion by 2017, according to an email statistics report by The Radicati Group. Email will, therefore, continue to remain one of the go-to communication channels for business, as will voicemail, due to its omnipotence universally.

While there is no disputing the significance of voice and email for business communications, both channels inherently have room for improvement. For instance, a great number of voicemails go unheard, and the majority of business email accounts are limited to on-premises deployment. Today’s work culture is increasingly defined by stronger and more cost-effective cloud-based communication tools and technologies. These new technologies are expanding the borders of traditional business approaches and taking enterprise collaboration to an unprecedented new level.

We are currently in the eye of a 21st century collaboration storm. If you haven’t yet begun investing in new communication tools, now is the time to do so to secure your company’s spot at the forefront of innovation.

What Is Available Today?

Today’s workers have access to a variety of messaging sources that can be classified as:

  • Synchronous: multiple processes occurring at the same time
  • Asynchronous: processes occurring separately or independently of one another

Both are able to transform business processes in terms of immersive collaboration. For example, each can turn messaging from an offline process into real-time communication, driving productivity and improving the overall experience, depending on users’ needs.

Email and social posting are asynchronous tools that allow employees to communicate within the confines of real-time constraints. This allows time for thoughtful and descriptive responses (for example, a salesperson can carefully craft a pitch).

Some forms of asynchronous messaging do yield real-time communication. This can oftentimes be seen in instant messaging (IM), group chats and even mobile texting. This is a live interactive dialog happening in the moment with no lag time between responses. These discussions are usually leveraged for quick questions that require less-detailed responses. For example, employees may use an IM application between one another with quick questions about a project.

Which Communications Tools Offer Benefits to My Business?

Text and IM are very disruptive because of their real-time nature. They are gradually replacing live voice communications because they:

  • Override certain language barriers
  • Their ubiquitous nature reduces bandwidth constraints
  • They are easy to use and deploy in virtually any environment

These communication channels are rapidly moving beyond push marketing to enable two-way communication between sales and customers. In fact, worldwide IM accounts–including enterprise IM solutions available with Avaya Aura® Contact Center and public IM networks like Google+ being increasingly integrated with corporate networks–are slated to grow from 3.4 billion in 2012 to over 4.4 billion by 2017, according to a separate report from The Radicati Group.

Real-time text, IM, and social messaging, once used exclusively by teens to express themselves in just a few characters (i.e., LOL and OMG), is growing up fast. In a sign of just how mainstream texting has become, older adults now make up the fastest-growing new population of texters, according to the Pew Internet & Life Project.

Another great option–and one of my favorites–is Multimedia IM, which allows asynchronous communications in a comfortable form for most users, all in one simple tool. You can rely on IM with some users, escalate to voice or Avaya Scopia® Video Conferencing with others or mix video with IM to achieve the best results possible.

Enterprises are increasingly looking to leverage the mobile channel to improve internal operations and enhance both internal and external communication. In fact, mobile IM saw 460 million accounts by the end of 2013 and is slated for strong growth over the next four years, according to The Radicati Group.

Additionally, mobile email users grew to 897 million in 2013. Enterprises are combining IM and mobile as a cost-effective, reliable and proven solution to meet these goals. Now could be a great time for your company to do so as well.

What Can My Company Do to Keep Up?

There are plenty of effective tools available for improving workplace collaboration, but investment isn’t the final step–you must also lay down the groundwork for maintaining success. Here are some ways that your company can ensure a successful collaboration strategy post-deployment:

  • Combat a lack of education and adoption: Employees should know that new communication technologies are not a distraction to what they are doing, but rather collaborative tools they can effectively leverage to maximize work processes.
  • Meet demand: The pace of innovation outruns the pace of implementation. If your IT team is saddled with solving time-consuming email migration and legacy voicemail issues that have little to no impact on the enhancement of core business processes, you’re going to fall behind in the game. Elevate awareness of just how easy it is to implement IM and text messaging, for example, and keep your organization ahead of the pack.
  • Have the right approach: Executives need to take a holistic approach to adopting messaging technology to improve internal operations and enhance both internal and external communications. By integrating real-time messaging capabilities into their existing processes and IT services, enterprises can solve numerous use cases across their organizations, from reaching the largest number of users as efficiently as possible to achieving the highest engagement rates that synchronized messaging delivers.

So What Comes Next?

Predictions are always fun, but they are inherently dangerous. For instance, who is actually driving the Jetson’s hovercraft “car of the future” that was promised all those years ago? We may not definitively know what is lined up next in the communications and collaboration realm, but we do know the average workplace no longer looks the way it did 10 or even five years ago. And, chances are, your employees are not communicating or collaborating the way they used to. In fact, some may not even be in the workplace at all but working at home or on the road.

Change is inevitable and necessary for companies that wish to succeed. That’s exactly why executives need to invest in communication tools and technologies that are agile and able to grow alongside their company. We may not know what comes next, but we need to be prepared for it. One thing is for sure: We no longer live in a world of only voicemail and email communications.

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