Hugo Pinto

Innovation, Strategy, Technology, Data

The future of instant messaging [Whatsapp & Snapchat] is both consumer and enterprise

Instant messaging is already 16% in Japan, 12% in the US and 9% in the UK, according to Nielsen. It represents the freedom to communicate with anyone, anywhere and at anytime – but it’s also had a deeper impact in user experience – we now expect everything to happen in realtime.

Let’s sidestep into twitter for a moment – it seems to be emulating a few of the principles the younger generations can’t live without.

  1. Free Uncensored information – anyone can post (almost) anything from anywhere and at anytime, without any kind of editorial control – Media seem to be embracing this quite well
  2. Immediate feedback – like face to face conversations, you say something and you expect to get feedback – you get it if you make sure you say something relevant or speak to someone directly
  3. User centric – you can tweet from anywhere, even from outside of twitter – you can reach and engage anyone interested in talking about the topic you’re focusing on – from the relevant places where you are, no hassle

Value exchange, engagement and usability are the 3 key principles in any consumer and business app or system of the digital age.

This seems to be aligning in the consumer markets but it’s taking longer to set into the enterprise universe of legacy and process.

Whatsapp’s acquisition by facebook by 16Bn USD and now the rumours of Snapchat’s 10Bn valuation confirm the notion of where users are going to with this – they want more realtime, they want information now and the smartphone data revolution is only enablingthis more and more. Line’s approach is probably the most advanced as they integrate the mCommerce in the ecosystems where users…chat!

What about enterprise?

IBM and Apple have certainly made a statement about this: the enterprise of the future is mobile, data-driven, cloud based and socially enabled – and they expect to make a bang on the industry.

The opportunity is clearly here for anyone who uses the 3 pillars I mentioned before: Value Exchange, engagement and usability.

How many tools exist in an enterprise just to comply with obsolete processes?

How useful to employees are they?

How much does all of this waste cost in both resources and efficiency?

Some of these systems and processes have been around before the smartphone revolution – companies must begin to ask the right questions.

  • How much time and effort from my employees can I save by allowing them to complete workflow actions on their mobile phones (approvals, notifications, requests)?
  • Should e-mail be the communication tool by default when instant messaging is much more collaboration oriented, transparent and quicker?
  • Why do we have different systems to catalogue, qualify and store comments, observations and other interactions that don’t connect between themselves, to the relevant stakeholders and because of this add no value to any system?

Salesforce, box.com, Jive, IBM connections – they are all trying (re)invent the wheel, when it’s probably already invented. They shouldn’t be forcing adoption and more tools or apps for the user to master. The only reason why these systems don’t endure is because they lack engagement – and the ones that do work are the ones that manage a cultural change and create these to be useful and efficient.

The culture is the biggest barrier in companies to accept that the border between personal and professional life are blurring, and even industries like travel are beginning to question this commandment, and considering allowing pervasive models between business and personal.

Companies are groups of people exchanging information and resources to reach one goal – communication and collaboration is the key to be more productive, so the less time is wasted in logging into systems from a specific device, using information repositories no one reads and building workflows and processes to feed this dinosaur, the more productive it becomes.

There’s also no hiding behind systems for inefficient employees, so no more taking two weeks to reply to an e-mail with other people in CC – open work groups or project groups are the way to go. Groups that allow anyone from that team to search for previous solutions and learnings and share best practices.

It’s time for instant messaging apps to enable their APIs to take them to the next level and demonstrate their real value proposition – enterprise!

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