January 24th, 2019

What a Corporate Messenger Tells about Your Company?

Choosing the best way to communicate with your colleagues may be challenging, but it's the choice every company has to make. Today, we touch a few popular options on the market and explain how you can judge the business for its corporate messenger.
Although we should judge people based on their actions, you can't deny that the outfit plays a major role in a final verdict. There's a good reason why brands like Gucci, Aston Martin, and Rolex flourish. People use accessories to show more than just a lovely picture—it displays the status, habits, and qualities of the owners. You can be sure that a person who has a dog wearing a sweater is the one who begs to close a bus window on a warm summer day.
And just like fancy goods, corporate messengers also have their brands that can indicate which values a company pursues. Communication is a major factor every company and there's no position that could ignore this factor—everyone will need to contact other workers no matter what.

Even if it's your first day at a new job, there will be tons of new contacts you need to interact with: HR manager, sysadmin, project manager, etc. And the way a messenger works, looks, and even sounds will form an image of your company and will persist onward.

Down below are the common tools you may come across in the modern business world that can tell a lot about the company before even getting into the workflow.

Skype

Well, it used to be "The King." This was even more so after the slow and painful death of ICQ as Skype became a go-to option for all sorts of companies: the ability to use free voice/video calls was something mind-boggling. Although the business version wasn't free whatsoever, its free copy allowed for organized group management (having roles, adding/deleting members, editing titles, sharing contacts, sending files), and, of course, group calls to host conferences.

But now it's different. Whether it was a horrendous number of updates that led to the latest UI versions becoming a pure mess or massive hardware requirements, Skype has been steadily becoming a relic. From my perspective, Microsoft buying it in 2011 was a mistake—what was arguably the most secure messenger back then became a product with the most security controversies to date: it became susceptible to hacking, analyzing words (including user keyboard behavior), location detection, and even wiretapping by the government. Oh yeah, Snowden's revelation has also turned out to be a massive punch in the gut to Skype, since PRISM allowed to fully expose users' messages and calls.
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Image courtesy: Photo by Tirza van Dijk on Unsplash
Now it's perceived as a messenger with a lot of old contacts. Check yourself and take a look at how many "dead" users there are in your friend list—the mobile version allows for checking their last login info. Speaking of which, the mobile product looks like an old, inconvenient version of their competitors—from the very start, the loading speed even on the fastest phones can make you sad, not to mention the dated UI: notification system and the in-built browser can make anyone sad. An attitude towards the mobile version is a great display of how uninterested Microsoft is about improving Skype. This growing market should be prioritized instead of being abandoned, but we fear that the failure of Windows Phone OS could scare away the company from the mobile world beyond retrieve.

Ironically, Skype became a tool for staying in touch with your relatives or people you know for quite a while, so the slogan "stay connected with everyone you care about" came true. But it's surely not about business; usually, only the "old school" companies still use it (not necessarily a bad sign) or companies that don't care about communication whatsoever. The second option may become a concern if the company doesn't have a dedicated person for the comms, so you better have one. Skype wasn't designed to manage large teams workers in the first place.

Viber

Another "meh" option if the company wants to be perceived seriously. Viber doesn't care about user privacy as its core value is accessing anyone wherever they are. As a result, prepare for tons of spam from the companies that have your mobile number—whether it was a retail or an online store, you will certainly receive ad-messages with hot offers that you don't care about. To their credit, Viber allows for ignoring such messages and unsubscribing via one simple click, but it doesn't alleviate the feeling that the messenger wasn't created for business purposes. For example, Gmail is also a hotspot for this type of spam, but usually you find "hot offers" in a "promotions" tab that doesn't affect your business activities.
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Viber surely deserves praise for its sharp connection—it always amazed us by how well it delivers messages, even when having the weakest signal. Plus, it's good at sending messages after you gain connection, and its double-check visual indicator keeps you well informed about the recipient's connection status. The necessity to enter a phone number when adding a friend or an intrusive Avast ad during a desktop installation makes you think it's not the best option for business. This leads to the conclusion that Viber is probably used by smaller companies, more family-type groups where communication isn't an important factor and everyone gets to talk during face-to-face contacts.

Telegram

Call it a much better Viber version. At its core, Telegram addressed all of Viber's flaws and delivered the best experience in the same area: both desktop and mobile versions are extremely fast and sharp, while obnoxious ads and spam factors are no longer present. It has also seen major improvements in terms of user presence—the online status gets instantly updated plus the privacy settings allow for hiding recent activity as well as a phone number—that's why the username feature has been introduced.

But on top of privacy and interface advancements, group management is what stands out the most. Adding new users is convenient and you can edit names and set up the roles for each newcomer. Moreover, it's easy to set up time zones so that remote workers can adjust their schedule regardless of the time zone.
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Group announcements will help you keep employees informed: project status, responsible workers with different authorization levels, and hashtag role marking is what makes this process organized and well balanced. Don't forget about custom bot interaction and telegram channels in order to keep employees engaged.

So, Telegram is a well-rounded soldier, but versatility is what kinda drags it back; when a product is good for all purposes, then it's worse for a niche, which in our case is software development—and rightfully so. Telegram boasts great value for all sorts of companies that value encryption and security in the first place—secret, unbreachable rooms is the cherry on top, but can you really use it on a large IT company scale? As a result, we see Telegram becoming a prime option for notary companies, law offices, or smaller IT companies, but if the company works on multiple projects with several teams, then there should still be a dedicated person to keep everything in check and synced.

Slack

The main thing you need to know Slack is their slogan: "It's the foundation for teamwork." Right from the get-go, they declare themselves as a platform for cooperation—no shenanigans about family or connecting with people you love—only business, only hardcore. As a result, you get a solid product with a neat UI made for managing multiple teams; apart from separate groups for each project, there can be spaces for the executives or for all the employees, or even, let's say, a room for rock music fans.

You may think it sounds the same as previous picks, but there's something to it—the UI is simply well-thought. The comment section is designed to avoid clumping the messages via sub-comments for each of them. Furthermore, you can generate a link for each message, share it with others, start a thread, and add reactions that can be uploaded and customized within your own corporate network. File sharing is also what deserves praise thanks to Slack being a Cloud app, making it simple and safe to exchange all sorts of documents, complemented by a detailed preview feature.
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Image courtesy: Photo by Pankaj Patel on Unsplash
But the side software integrations and customizable bots are what make it great. There's a ton of programs at your disposal: Google Drive, Calendar, Asana, GitHub, Trello, Zendesk, and numerous other tools in 20 categories that allow for adjusting your experience in every practical way inside Slack. As a result, you receive a great tool for all kinds of purposes that is mostly utilized by larger companies that need to keep every employee in charge. Much like integrating a whole bunch of software into the system, Slack does the same thing to workers by uniting them in a single environment where bloated management teams become obsolete—employees get organized and kept in charge by using rooms, bots, and schedule. It is often a sign of a mid-to-large company that treats their workers as the independent units who can deliver upon crucial goals without rigid surveillance.

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