What Do CIOs Need To Know About Chat?

Chat software is starting to replace email
Chat software is starting to replace email
Image Credit: Wikipedia

If I asked you what the most important application that your company uses is, what would your answer be? I believe that for most of us it would be email – this is how everyone in the company communicates with each other. However, there is a revolution in communication that is going on that may change everything. Chat has arrived and it’s going to be the CIO’s job to manage this new service.

What Is Chat?

When you think about all of the different types of technology that a CIO is responsible for keeping track of, you can quickly become overwhelmed. Included on this list is the cloud, artificial intelligence, etc. which are all related to the importance of information technology. As big and as important as all of these technologies are, a much bigger technology has just arrived: chat. It can be all too easy for a CIO to scoff at the idea of chat as being a big deal – isn’t it just an email replacement?

If that’s what you are thinking, then you would be wrong. It turns out that chat is much more than what a lot of us think that it is. Chat is turning into the backbone of how a company’s workers communicate with each other. It has the ability to bring together not only people, but also the software applications that the company uses. When a firm starts to use a chat app, all of sudden things get done much quicker as each employee can use the chat app to complete a transaction.

Chat is starting to grow in importance. This is starting to attract a lot of the big players. Facebook has introduced “Workplace by Facebook” which creates a Facebook environment within a workplace. Microsoft has also added a group chat function to its Office 365 application called “Microsoft Teams”.

How Should CIOs Deal With Chat?

What all of this means for us as CIOs is that we need to start to spend some more time taking a closer look at what chat means for our company. In addition to the new players, there are also the firms that created the market such as HipChat and Slack. There is no shortage of options when it comes to selecting a chat applications to use at your company.

The reason that chat can be such a powerful tool comes down to how people at your company will end up using it. The reason that users view chat as being such a powerful tool is because they can use it in a way that is both immediate and synchronous which makes it feel like either a meeting or a phone call. However, at the same time it can be used in an asynchronous fashion which makes it feel more like email. Using chat to work through a workplace issue can replace a complicated mess of emails, phone calls, and documents.

The term “ChatOps” has recently been coined in order to describe the use of a chat application to move beyond improving team communication and to now start to coordinate business functions. One way this is being done is to interface applications into the chat application. This allows computers to push notifications into group chats. Likewise, notifications can be sent from a chat window directly to a remote system.

What All Of This Means For You

The person in the CIO position has the responsibility to stay on top of all of the changes that are happening in the world of IT. There are many different things that are all going on at the same time, but the most important of these is the emergence of chat applications.

Chat applications first showed up as an email replacement. It has since turned into a backbone tool for everyone in the company to use. Things can now be done quicker and with less effort. Facebook and Microsoft are starting to offer chat applications. People in your company can use a chat application both synchronously and asynchronously. ChatOps is a term that has been invented to describe the use of a chat application to coordinate business functions.

The question of when the right time for your company to move to using a chat application is a question that only the person with the CIO job will be able to answer. However, you can assume that this will eventually happen due to the value that chat applications bring. Make sure that you understand how your company will use chat and then provide them with the tool that will best meet their business needs.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Department Leadership Skills™

Question For You: If you implement a chat app, does this means that you can retire some other applications?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Think for just a moment about the last meeting that you went to. How did that turn out for you? Can you remember what was said? Even more interestingly, were you any healthier once the meeting was over. I’m willing to bet that the answer was no. Don’t you wish that, assuming that these meetings are a necessity, there was a better way to conduct them? It turns out that there is. Depending on the size of the meeting that people are having with the person who has the CIO job, a “walk and talk” just might be a better way of communicating with the members of your department.