Chat! Is the end nigh for team email?

I see a time when collaborative teams will shun traditional email in favour of chat.

You may think I have lost my marbles, and you would not be alone, but this is happening now. Today I see the news that the Task management app, Flow, has added chat functionality to it’s line up of features. With this scramble towards integration of chat functionality with Task Management and Calendars it got my old brain thinking about how these web based systems are really starting to utilise the advantages that only online or networked systems have. In particular what advantages this form of communication can bring to the mix, especially for small companies and collaborative project teams.

The Workplace communication Ecosystem

Although simple chat has been a mainstay of the internet for years it is a relatively new phenomenon in the Enterprise arena where it now joins a myriad of various ways to communicate,

  • Face to face of course. Retro, but still by far the best.
  • Telephone
  • Web based voice, chat, screen sharing such as Microsoft Lync.
  • Email, the workhorse of company communication
  • Task managmement chat functionality
  • Pulp, a.k.a. paper

Each as a role in the workplace with advantages and disadvantages, but picking out the cocky newcomer – Task management based chat, let’s review those.

Advantages of Task Based Chat

  • Direct integration of tasks, communication related to tasks and short to medium term scheduling
  • All information related to the task including commentary can be found in one place
  • Productivity improvements by having all activities and communication in one platform, and not a myriad of project plans, todo lists, calendar entries, meeting minutes, scattered files, email chains etc.
  • Historical, central recording of communication. Sure beats digging out some email communication from a long lost outlook .pst file.

Disadvantages of Task Based Chat

  • You know, none that major where the other mediums could not readily step in. It is really a question of the right tool for the job.

Now for the million dollar question, would I handle my project activities in this way now? Well, no. Not because I am not a fan of this task based chat but from what I have seen of the web based task management systems, I don’t think they are mature and capable enough yet to cope with my needs. Those needs are primarily to be able to handle professional big picture project planning AND day to day micro tasks. It’s a big ask of any system and at the moment I don’t see an online platform that can deliver that. But, I keep looking and keep reviewing so stay tuned!

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