In the world of real estate, the three most important things to look for in a property are: location, location, location. However, when it comes to business, arguably the most vital component is communication, communication, communication.
Think of all the ways you communicate on any given day: speech, email, text, body language, maybe Morse code, if you're old school. Now think of all the times a means of communication failed you: a lost letter, a misconstrued message, a weak WiFi signal.
Communication isn't perfect, but when it comes to our businesses we need it to be as reliable and effective as possible. Be it in the office or across the globe, a company needs to be able to communicate in order to survive. Thankfully, technology has provided countless new professional communication platforms designed to improve the ways we do business.
Connecting with clients, interoffice communication, and even office gossip can be taken to the next level via user-friendly apps. And there are even rumors that email might soon be a thing of the past.
Here are five tech tools that are improving professional communications:
1. Yammer: In the ever-changing world of communication technology, Yammer has managed to stay relevant for an impressive length of time. The enterprise social network had already been around for four years when it was acquired by Microsoft in 2012. Shortly thereafter it became part of Microsoft's Office 365.
As a platform, Yammer allows users to collaborate with others in the office, while adding a social component that makes it like a boss-approved Facebook. Companies can organize their workforce into groups based on department, projects, or whatever makes sense for them. Yammer also facilitates easy file sharing and lets users track changes and make notes.
But the key to Yammer's success is how it incorporates a variety of communication methods into one platform. Instant messaging, private conversations, group announcements, and even external communications with partners or clients are all possible with Yammer.
2. Slack: For awhile now, Slack has been touted as "the email killer." And while email is far from flat-lining, Slack is giving email a run for its money. The team-based messaging app is designed to make any and all communications integrated and easy to access. It divides conversations up into channels that anyone can jump in and out of to get the information they need.
Slack's search function makes it easy to sort through the communication clutter and find exactly what you need. For example, if you need a project deadline, but can't remember if the date was given to you in a doc, a direct message, or a notification, a quick search will locate it for you.
But what Slack does that email can't, is integrate countless of apps, including everything from Skype to Twitter to Poncho the WeatherCat. This allows workers to discuss everything from the company's social media presence to where to go for drinks after work without ever leaving the platform.
3. XROS: Pronounced "cross", as in cross-company, this messaging system takes communication beyond the boundaries of the office. Anyone -- clients, partners from other businesses, the media -- can become part of the conversation as long as you have their email address.
What sets XROS apart is that it doesn't require users to download anything. If you want to include someone in the discussion, enter their email address in the message and XROS sends a link to the thread directly to them. If they like the platform, they can download it, if not they still have access that information.
4. Bitrix24: This platform pretty much does everything, but run your company for you. Bitrix24 solves the issue of finding messaging apps, HR software, and task management programs that are compatible by putting all of that and more in one spot.
More than anything this is a way to simplify office logistics and organization. It clearly defines what each feature is for so you know where to communicate what. There's a social network to build employee relationships and engagement and group and video chat. It can also function as the office calendar, task planning tool, calling center, sales management platform, and cloud server.
To be honest, one might say Bitrix24 does a little too much.
5. Recognize: Less ambitious than Bitrix24, but performing just as important of a function is the employee recognition app, Recognize. The app allows users to be acknowledged for their hard work by anyone, including clients and peers. Recognize is also fully integrated with Yammer, making it easy to share and celebrate employee accomplishments.
As a communication tool, Recognize not only rewards employees, it also allows employers to remind the office about the organizational values and culture. So if you want to communicate the importance of creativity to employees you can create badges and recognitions that represent that value.
Clear communications are the key to any successful business. Our problem today is not lack of communication options, but rather choosing the right ones for us. With so many options, equip your team for success and improve your communication process both internally and externally.