Why do IT teams love to chat?
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How chat is changing Enterprise IT teams
There's growing evidence that email is being replaced by more dynamic, tools for team communication. A recent article by Enterprise communication analysts No Jitter looks at how chat is changing Enterprise IT. It's better for users and makes work more observable. But what does that mean?
A place for teams to collaborate
No Jitter's Brian Riggs likens the new wave of communication tools to project management software and thinks the best point of reference for newcomers is the chat room. However, chat rooms have come a long way since the days of AOL instant messenger.
"Chat rooms with their own document repositories, persistent and searchable message threads and integration with a surprisingly wide range of third-party apps," he says.
Chat works for communication within the Enterprise for a number of reasons. It is much better suited to team discussion, it's more dynamic and it has a level of persistence and visibility that email can't match. When you start to link it into other knowledge and issue management systems HipChat with JIRA and Confluence, for example its speed is a real advantage.
Use email for what it's good at
Of course, it's unlikely that HipChat and other tools will kill email. Email is very good at a few things communication with external parties or broadcasting a message, for example.
Despite still being a reflex for many people wanting to communicate inside their organisation, email tends to lack context for the receiver and limit effective collaboration to one person at a time often long after an issue has been resolved or an opportunity has passed.
The impact of team applications
Although using team collaboration tools does require some change of mindset, the introduction of HipChat and other collaboration apps is having a predictable side-effect a marked reduction of email traffic.
Just how widespread is this trend? Research company Nemertes recent Unified Communications and Collaboration benchmark exercise found that approximately a quarter of surveyed senior IT leaders (from a range of industries) were either evaluating or starting to trial team communication apps. Usually a sign that the change is well under way.
Collaboration, openness and observability
Atlassian's Bernardo de Albergaria stresses that the key benefit to team collaboration apps is the openness they provide. Email is seen as private and is definitely restrictive when it comes to sharing expertise, insight and prior understanding.
"You lose a lot of knowledge in email", he says. Today's apps allow communications and content to be "observable" to all they aren't part of a closed loop of discussion with associated files locked from others view.
Conversely, the chat room-style enables people other than those having the conversation to observe, participate get value from the discussion. There is also the potential for them to add to the discussion, providing unexpected ideas, experience or solutions.
Add in the ease of referencing to other discussions, linking to shared documents or alerting specific individuals and all the valuable background, history and context to a particular subject is available to those who need to deal with an issue, develop an idea or respond to a customer.
For more information about improving your team communication and application lifecycle talk to Adaptavist.