When Instant Communication Isn't Fast Enough

By Steve Weissman posted 02-01-2012 14:20


Remember when e-mail was the ultimate in instant electronic communication? Short of the telephone, it was the best way to solicit information from someone on a timely basis – and it carried with it the extra benefit of leaving an actual audit trail behind!

Today, however, this one-time marvel of modern messaging is often being supplanted by such other media as instant messaging, texting, and Skype -- the latter of which is an interesting and effective blend of telephony, IM, video conferencing, and other heavy collaboration tools like desktop sharing.

The problem is that, with so many options so readily available, none strike me as being truly "instant." This may not be the case in the context of folks with whom you are in regular contact, since chances may be higher that they are monitoring your collective medium of choice at any given moment. But what about people you need to contact only every once in a while? By the time you finish trying all the different mechanisms available to you, you may as well have just picked up the phone and moved the process along.

This thought, like so many others, came to me as a result of recent personal experience, which had me bouncing between e-mail, Skype, and the telephone like a superball in a small room. The various circumstances involved scheduling conference calls, scoping projects, and making travel arrangements – and more than once I found myself wondering aloud, “why won't this person simply accept my invitation to call me, or at least provide a phone number so I can initiate the connection?”

In some ways, the audit trail that has been created during all the backs-and-forths may be a good thing, as it can demonstrate that I am not the cause of the bottleneck that is developing in the process. But mostly it serves only as a permanent record of the great frustration we all are feeling with the suddenly slowed pace of progress.

The lesson, as far as I can tell, is what it always is: use the tools that best address your business needs! Cf you really need to get hold of someone right away, then use the medium with the highest likelihood of success – and encourage your quarry to do the same. This is the best way to keep communications and work flowing smoothly, and the only way to derive maximum total value from your collaboration technologies.

Which are your favorite means of engaging in instant communication? Drop a line to and let me know.

#instantmessaging #Collaboration #ECM