Communication has got a major role in the field of business organizations. Without effective communication nothing is possible in business activities. This made computer based communication technologies more important. This includes communication technologies such as instant messaging and wikis. Both these technologies made lot of impact in the business field. The real life example to highlight this is the business organisation IBM. This organisation mainly uses communication technologies such as “Wikis, blogs, discussion forums, and other tools to manage their projects, develop documentation, make decisions and publicize their deliverables.” (Wikis, blogs and other community tools in the enterprise 2009).
The employees in this organization are mainly depending on this facility to communicate with others. The instant messaging and wikis have made great impact in the organization mainly for communication purpose and also for sharing the information.
Instant messaging in business
The meaning of instant messaging has been clearly mentioned in the book ‘Encyclopedia of Distance Learning’ written by Patricia Rogers and Caroline Howard. Instant messaging is “a form of real-time communication that allows two or more people based on typed text.” (Spaeth n.d.).
One thing to be made sure at the time of instant messaging is that both the parties must be online to communicate each other. This is why it is called synchronous based communication. In business activities it is very important that the parties who want to communicate must be available. The important thing of instant messaging in business is one can communicate in real time. It can be used to communicate with clients and workers. Real-time communication like this is more effective in large business organizations because it will reduce the usage of bandwidth. Also, it will save time and money. If one wants to talk to a customer in the other part of the world it will cost a lot of money if he talks over the phone. But if one is making conversation through instant messaging it is simple. Just type what one wants to convey to another person and hit send button. Instantly the message will pop up on the recipient’s screen. In business, everything must be fast. There is no need to wait for something. If one asks any query or any other thing the response to that query must be fast. One solution to this is the use of instant messaging. “IM in the workplace will permeate our culture more seamlessly and more quickly and will potentially change the way meetings are conducted.” (Impact of IM n.d.).
An example from the website www.entrepreneur.com will provide a clear answer to the importance of instant messaging in business. The example is as follows: A customer calls the person in the office with an important question, but the person can’t answer. So what the person does is he makes sure who in the accounts department is active on the company’s IM service. Then the person sends an instant message to the person in the accounts department who is currently logged in to the company’s instant message service. The person in the accounts department replies within a second. This way, without spending much time to track down someone on the phone or some other way the person is able to service the customer very easily. (Alexander 2008).
Instant messaging is extremely useful in business organizations. Nowadays instant messaging has more advanced features. The advanced features include video conferencing, voice over IP, and web conferencing. With these features, one can see the person in the other end and they can talk to each other also. The advanced features of instant messaging include these facilities. The recently held Aim survey reveals that “77% of at-work IM users feel that instant messaging had a positive impact on their work lives. The top reasons to use IM at work are: 58% feel that they can communicate with colleagues very easily, 49% feel they can get answers and make business decisions, 28% feel they can communicate with clients and customers, 25% exchange files through this, 23% send URL to colleagues.” (Third annual instant messaging survey 2005).
“MSN, Yahoo!, AOL, ICQ, Goggle, and many others are providers of instant messaging service.” (Wilkings n.d.).
Examples of instant messaging software, which are frequently used in business, are IBM Lotus Sametime, Jabber, and Microsoft Messenger.
Wikis in business
Wikis play an important role in business. A paper called Effective Collaboration and Enabling Innovations in Globally Distributed Working (GDW) Environment explained the wiki as “Wiki is similar to a blog, but is designed to be more collaborative. Unlike blogs designed to be one-to-many online publication solutions, Wikis are designed such that all users with access are able to add, remove, and edit content. In addition, it can link to spreadsheets, word documents, PowerPoint slides, PDFs, etc.” (Revathi & Desai n.d., p.613).
The use of wikis in the work environment will reduce email traffic. It has become a common area for collecting, organizing, and sharing knowledge in business. Also, it can be used for tracking the current situation of the project handling in the business organization. Shortly, it is an area where effective communication is taking place. “A wiki can organize information and archive contributions much better than blogs, and users need very little expertise.” (Fernando n.d.).
In a business, these wikis are used mainly for two purposes. One is to enable helpful communication with employees within the business organization and secondly, wiki can be used for communicating with clients who are the customers of the business organization.
Communicating with employees
Wiki can be used as a project management tool in business organizations. This can be used for creating and keeping track of the project, which includes documentation needed to handle the project teams, project plans, different schedules for completing each area of the project, status reports of the project, specifications of the project, etc. In wikis, the project manager can post all kinds of related items regarding the project. Also, each of the project handling teams can also post their status in the project, that is, which all parts they had completed, what are the things remaining, etc. These things are very important in the business organization for the successful completion of the task. Here wiki plays an important role.
Communicating with the client
Communication with clients or customers is another important thing in the business organization. This can help the business organization to satisfy the customers in their needs. Here wiki plays an important role. The project teams can place their status of the work in the wiki so that clients can easily figure out the status of their work, that is, how far the organization completed their work and all. Also, the customer can post or comment their views in wikis, that is, whether they are satisfied with the work done so far or whether any changes are needed in the product etc. For doing these kinds of things wikis are very helpful.
Also, in business, if one wants to sell any product or do marketing then they can use the wikis to give links to the presentation slides for the product. It is clear from the definition mentioned above that wikis can link to documents, excel sheets, PowerPoint presentations, etc. This will help the seekers to know about the product. One important thing to be kept in mind while using the wikis in business organisations is one or a group of people should always monitor the contents in the wikis to make sure that contents in the wikis are correct and up to date.
“According to a Gilbane survey of 73 companies, it’s mostly small businesses (those with less than $25 million in revenues) that are experimenting with wiki technology. However, several large enterprises have successfully deployed wikis as well.” (How to use wikis for business 2005).
Recently developed computer-based communication technologies such as instant messaging and wikis have made a great impact in the field of business. It has helped business organizations in many ways. One thing to be made sure of when using this technology is, utilize this technology for positive aspects then the benefits received from this will be more, and business organizations can grow faster.
Alexander, P 2008, Should your business use instant messaging, Entrepreneur.
Fernando, A n.d., Working of the same page, tech talk, (provided by customer).
How to use Wikis for business: where the Wikis are 2005, Global CIO.
Impact of IM n.d., (provided by customer).
Revathi, R & Desai, P n.d., Effective collaboration and enabling innovations in globally distributed working (GDW) environment: web2.0 tour.
Spaeth, M n.d., The next generation of communication, (provided by customer).
Third annual instant messaging survey: top trends in communications 2005, AIM.
Wikis, blogs and other community tools in the enterprise: solve enterprise application problems with social collaboration technology: communities on the web 2006, IBM.