It's time to upgrade your communications


Upgrade your communications?

Upgrade your communications?

Photo by tylerdurden1

For any business endeavor that goes beyond a single person probably the biggest driver for success is clear communication.  The good news is there are some amazing new technologies / products coming out that can revolutionize how your team communicates.

If you think about it, that clear communication starts with the vision for the product, the service, the strategy, the plan and the approach.  Then the work starts and it’s critical that everyone is on the same page – they’re communicating status, they’re communicating issues and they’re communicating ideas, suggestions and next steps.  Finally,  someone in charge is communicating milestones, progress and what lies ahead.

Hopefully everything is clear, timely and to the point.  If not…something will get screwed up.

It’s amazing how much things have changed through the years.  At one point, everything was paper based (TPS Report anyone?).  Phone calls and face to face meetings were used to review all of that paper.

Communication today

Paper’s not going away anytime soon, but you do have some alternatives – as a small business owner you have access to tools like Google Docs which lets you create and share all sorts of documents online (it’s free and easy to use – there are also several commercial variations).

In addition to all of the document management and project management support, now there’s a new kind of tool on the market – a business variation of Twitter, kind of a cross between instant messaging, email and forums.  Twitter asks you to briefly (140 characters) answer the question “What are you doing now?”.  These business variants ask “What are you working on now?” and they’re intended for your working partners (as opposed to the world or social connections).

I’m sure there will be several players in this space, but the first one that was announced was the winner of this year’s Techcrunch 50 show that concluded earlier this week.  The product is called Yammer and it demonstrated why it was the winner by signing up 10,000 people from 2,000 companies on the first day of their launch.

There are a lot of cool things to really like about the ideas behind Yammer – first of all the business model is brilliant.  In order to use it, you simply sign up using your business email address and you are automatically assigned to your business ‘group’.  95% of the functionality is free, but the catch is that if the business wants to manage the tool (and the messages and the participants for their company) then they need to claim the group and sign up for the paid service – at a cost of $1 per user per month.  Obviously that’s going to be expensive for a Fortune 500 company with 50,000 employees, but realistically they aren’t the target market – major corporate players will create their own solutions in house (or do without more likely).

The real winners are smaller companies, especially those with knowledge workers that work remotely that want a great way to keep up with what everyone is doing.

The other application coming out (that I’m aware of….I’m sure there are several more) is . is still in a beta phase so there’s not a lot of detailed information, but on the surface appears to be fairly similar to Yammer.

Anyway you slice it, the future of communications for teams, especially those that work remotely, is pretty amazing – especially when you think about where things were just a few years ago.

On a somewhat related note – another company that presented at the Techcrunch 50 was Geekvolution – the next generation of social networks targeting the self-proclaimed Geeks of the world.  Not only is it a cool idea with a lot of promise, but it was also started just down the road from Kansas City in Lawrence – check it out if you get a chance.

Would you use a service like Yammer?  I’d love to hear your thoughts on why it would or wouldn’t be useful to you.  Share in the comments.

Shawn Kinkade  Kansas City Business Coach

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