The quality of internal communication is essential for business success ― it can either make it or break it. Effective communication practices can help companies reach their goals and do it faster, all the while keeping staff members on the same page and involved. Poor communication, on the other hand, might not only hinder goal achievement and lead to wasted time and resources but also cause employees to lose interest and produce a low-quality product.
Small and large businesses alike are taking advantage of various apps to improve the efficiency of internal communications. The efforts to adopt communication technology pay off with improved productivity, happier and healthier employees, and higher profits.
Importance of Internal Communication by the Numbers
These statistics show how vital the topic of communication is for businesses:
- According to a Spiceworks 2018 study, 58% of small businesses, 61% of midsize businesses and 70% of large businesses employ collaborative chat applications.
- According to Staffbase research, organizations that can effectively communicate safety information to their staff cut their expenditures on work accidents by 31%.
- The same study also showed that customer satisfaction rose by 10% and higher when managers used apps to train team members. Each 10% increase in customer satisfaction led to revenue growth of 7%.
A Case for Business Communication Apps
The invention of the internet and the multitude of tools to go along with it brought fresh opportunities for better communication. New business solution apps offer innovative ways to manage and simplify business processes. The choice for communication tools is unprecedented today, and companies have no excuse for ineffective communication.
Top players on the market understand the need to communicate with their employees consistently and in ways that resonate with them. Successful businesses stay tuned in with changes in the workplace and quickly adapt their strategies to communicate relevant information in a timely manner and via the appropriate channels. Organizations should let go of outdated and ineffective communication methods and take advantage of various programs designed for business communication.
Many businesses are leveraging more than one app to streamline and enhance internal communications for stronger team cohesion and improved productivity. Google Drive and WhatsApp are the two applications that help Cole Hatter, founder of Thrive: Make Money Matter, run five different companies simultaneously. According to Hatter, Google Drive is easy to use for communicating, tracking and real-time updates on various processes and projects, and WhatsApp is perfect for sending out audio messages and creating separate communication threads for different companies and divisions.
As demonstrated by a recent study by Staffbase, the switch from analog internal communication to mobile app technology has allowed companies to reach their employees more easily, improve internal communication, align strategy and operations, and attain higher levels of success. Apps offer effective ways to connect a remote workforce, relay vital information instantly and provide workers with necessary tools.
Thomas Carter, founder and CEO of DealBox Inc., favors PandaDoc for automatic alerts that the app sends out when it detects any changes to company documents. “Being able to communicate, transact and execute all our contracts digitally has had a major impact at DealBox,” he said.
2019 Trends in Business Communication
According to the Spiceworks research, among the collaborative business chat apps, Microsoft Skype for Business is ahead of its competitors. The number of businesses that incorporate the technology grew from 36% in 2016 to 44% in 2018. Microsoft Teams is next, with adoption rates jumping from 3% to 21% between 2016 and 2018. This drastic increase pushed Slack (which grew from 13% to 15%) to third place. However, the trend is about to take a slight shift in 2019.
Projection #1: What Will Change
Due to Microsoft’s focus on making Teams the main tool for online meetings, it will take the place of Skype for Business. As found by the Spiceworks researchers, Microsoft Teams will become the most widely used communication app. Forty-one percent of companies plan to start using Microsoft Teams, while 18% plan to use Slack.
Projection #2: What Will Stay
While Slack is viewed as an innovative app, Microsoft Teams is perceived as secure and cost-effective, and Skype for Business as reliable and user-friendly. As such, Microsoft Teams and Skype for Business are most favored by large organizations, while Slack is most popular among small businesses. This distribution among the business communication tools users is expected to continue.
The Communication Tools Businesses Choose and Why
Depending on their size, nature of the business and type of workforce, businesses choose different tools to manage internal communication. While Skype for Business, Microsoft Teams and Slack are in the top three, companies also employ other useful applications that target their specific needs. Following is an overview of some of the popular tools and the reasons why businesses favor them.
Tried-and-True Skype for Business
Skype for Business is a classic app for business communications, with text, voice, and video options and simplicity of file sharing. It is perfect for communicating with remote workers and holding online meetings. The video conferencing feature allows up to 250 people on a call, which makes it invaluable for organizing large company meetings. The app also comes with features for call recording and screen sharing as well as various collaboration tools. The instant messaging feature helps call participants pitch new ideas as they come. With the whiteboard feature, members can draft and edit together as if they are sitting at the same table.
Up-and-Coming Microsoft Teams
Although not as intuitive as Skype for Business, Microsoft Teams is created specifically for workspace communication. It comes with many powerful functions, including the capacity for instant messaging and audio and video calling. It is also fully integrated with Microsoft Office 365 tools and allows each user to store up to 1 TB of files.
Since its launch in 2013, Slack has gained popularity among companies with a remote workforce and is widely used for managing projects and team collaboration. This company communication app was designed by a game development company to help with internal communication.
Slack is a simple and practical tool that allows for immediate communication and is a must-have for any startup. Many companies prefer Slack instead of email as it makes communication more effective. Users can create chat rooms by topic, send direct messages, hold private chats and make video calls. It is easy to search for past conversations and locate communication media, members and groups. Slack comes with generous file storage and sharing capacity of up to 20 GB per participant.
Slack is based in the cloud and can be accessed on the web or downloaded on a desktop or smartphone, including web, Windows, Android and iOS phones. It is integrated with various tools such as Google Drive, Dropbox, Zendesk, Mailchimp and Skype. Slack’s free version has no limit on the number of users, while its paid options save past conversations that can be easily searched for later. It also features useful productivity tools.
With high-definition video and audio, Fuze is ideal for holding online conferences. The app is compatible with all operating systems and devices and is easy to set up. The Fuse platform allows for exchange and presentation of media-rich content, including documents, animations and multimedia files. Fuze is considered one of the most flexible video conferencing apps and is used by such companies as the Associated Press and CareerBuilder.
As a multifunctional tool, Basecamp allows users to consolidate various business functions into one place, thus simplifying business processes. Users can manage their projects and keep track of internal communication and customer relations all within the Basecamp platform. Its discussion boards feature can organize conversations on any topic in one place, which makes it easier to navigate compared with long email threads.
Basecamp comes with built-in to-do lists and automatic status updates to help companies stay up to date on projects’ progress and avoid any unpleasant surprises.
The Bonusly app is designed to help businesses with staff motivation and recognition, and it makes the process fast and fun for all participants. In essence, the app encourages team members’ appreciation for each other. Everyone has a so-called “bag of points,” which they can give out to their colleagues for doing something great. The giver of the points then has to attach a hashtag and write why the receiver deserves the reward. The collected points can be redeemed for physical gifts, such as gift cards, restaurant coupons or team activities.
As one of the determining factors for business well-being, internal communication deserves due attention. By utilizing ample options in communication technology, organizations can become more productive and efficient. However, such a wide choice can also be an impediment to companies’ growth if the chosen tools are not properly integrated with processes or do not resonate with users. Business professionals might consider earning a communication management master’s degree to learn how to navigate the world of communication tools and application techniques. Visit the USC Annenberg School for Communications and Journalism site to get the details about the online Master of Communication Management program.