Is team chat the evolution of business social software?

As a younger generation of workers favors messaging-based communication, team chat apps have emerged to fit the changing needs for business social software.

In short, team chat apps are the new business social software, but it depends on how you define business social software. The words social and business don't normally go together, but as the all-encompassing digital transformation of work continues, these aren't normal times.

A key driver for team chat apps is the generational shift to Millennials, where text is the favored mode of communication, rather than telephony. Millennials find messaging more efficient, giving rise to the proliferation of cloud platforms, such as Slack, which are built on a messaging-centric model where voice is not necessary.

Messaging is familiar to Millennials, since it drives their interactions on social media in their personal lives. As digital denizens, their frames of reference are the internet, the cloud and mobility. With that in mind, along with the overlap between work and personal spaces, the notion of social business starts to make sense. For this demographic, business is very much a social activity, where information is shared among teams.

It's not surprising to see so much uptake in social business software like team chat and messaging applications. If this is the best mode of communication for digital natives to be productive, then businesses should embrace it and stop worrying about how these workers aren't using their desk phones or email. Similarly, if they approach collaboration as a social activity with messaging platforms driving productivity, then IT needs to be supportive.

If team chat apps are becoming common in your organization, you need to stop imposing legacy modes of collaboration.

Digital natives also expect to have user-defined applications. The harder IT resists, the more likely employees will seek cloud-based platforms that support their notion of social business.

Employees have plenty of options; and when they choose their apps, IT will struggle to get them back into the fold.

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