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I think most people would agree that Technology is an awesome thing, and a great enabler to getting things done.
Emails however… that has become a different story of late. As reliant as we are on them, sometimes we can get so many that we can get caught up in the ‘tick you’re it’ game, trying to clear your task list up.
I was in Cambridge a couple of months ago, visiting an old friend, and this topic came up. He had about 200 emails in his inbox at one point, but managed to get the number down to 90.
The majority of them weren’t important - you know the type that you see banded around: ‘The sandwich van’s here’ (Which is obviously important when you’re Hank Marvin), but when you’re out and about, trying to keep on top of things, it adds no value and just fills up your inbox.
There are now lots of alternatives to email which can help you stay in touch with the business more effectively, particularly whilst you’re ‘on the go’ or work in different offices to each other. And this is something that businesses really need to bear in mind in today’s working environment.
I’ll start with SharePoint which is a great tool for collaboration. You can quite easily create a list, publish it on a corporate intranet, and allow people to opt in to what they want to receive. Other people within the company can post information and news as they see fit. You can also work on documents together if you’re all in different locations, gather data for business intelligence, and all sorts of great stuff (see more info around SharePoint).
Personally I find a lot of value in subscribing to data; it’s like being wired up to the Matrix. Something like Yammer or Twitter lets you generally subscribe to all sorts.
And aside from all the posts from people who randomly put up pictures of comical dogs typing on a Keyboard or in a wig (each to their own I guess...) social media is also a great way to keep on top of current trends and news.
In 2001 a couple of guys from Estonia developed a file sharing program called Kazaa (I remember it well!), and later went on to develop Skype in 2003. Skype was a breath of fresh air; it bought early SIP-like functionality along with instant messaging and video calls together to bring a human factor back into the technological world.
I remember setting Skype up as a means to reduce costs in communications when I travelled to other countries on business trips.
2011 saw Microsoft acquire Skype after which they phased out Windows Instant Messenger in April of this year. This wasn’t the first product that Microsoft had in the Communications space; in 2007 they released Office Communicator, which has since been transformed into Lync which we use a lot within TSG.
There are a lot of consumer devices that are out in the world which support Skype, so that’s great! We are already well on the way from minutes based billing, to data based, which is just awesome for reducing business and consumer costs, and means we get a wide range of subscriptions and service providers to choose from.
When Lync 2010 was first launched, Bill Gates said, "Lync is the biggest thing to happen to the office worker since the PC."
Lync is great; it allows you to avoid using email and get straight to the point either via a quick messaging chat or via a Lync video call, combined with desktop sharing and a virtual whiteboard.
Lync 2013 comes with some great new features like HD Video Conferencing, along with Skype federation, which means that you can extend your communication strategy to include Skype users on other devices.
As with everything these days however, connectivity is key and underlines everything. You need to make sure that everything you have running in the background can cope with all your communications, whether via Skype, Lync, and SharePoint, not to mention all your data too.
Some questions to ask your business – how reliable are your connections? Do you have control over them? Have you got the bandwidth to cope with the levels of traffic, especially if you’re running cloud based applications?
Also, it’s easy to forget that email isn’t real time, whereas voice, video conferencing and messaging are.
Essentially, you need to make sure that everything you have running in the background can cope with all your communications, whether via Skype, Lync, and SharePoint, not to mention all your data too.
So I think the message I am trying to get across here really is that there are now more effective ways to communicate than just email. Technology has introduced some fantastic ways to “Keep Talking”.
Communication is a massive topic for the technology world today, and something which I’m really interested in. I guess it stretches over to my hobbies too, as I once created a cover of the Pink Floyd song 'Keep Talking'...