Back in the 80’s when I was a kid, my dad was a CPA with a successful private practice. Even when not at work, my dad seemed to be constantly on the phone. Time exaggerates the memories but I swear I’ve never seen anyone on the phone more. He even had to buy one of those rubber attachments to allow hands-free talk, with an extra-long cord strung out around the house.
Constant and detailed communication was one of the main reasons my dad is a success. Without the phone his business would have been a wreck. I think the same can be said for all the businesses that laid the groundwork for where they are now. Advanced communication is the hallmark of a successful organization.
Now, we have so many means of communicating, both in-house and with clients, it boggles the mind. The telephone is no longer the only way to achieve advanced communication levels. But what is it to be advanced in our communication, and how do we do it?
On one hand, to be advanced is to be constantly on top of it, responding quickly and prioritizing what’s critical. On the other, it means identifying the ways and means of communication that are unorthodox. It means being prepared to use unorthodox, or ‘out-of-the-box’ technologies to achieve maximum information dissemination.
We’ve got to be able to use both hands, so to speak, for advanced communication. We’ve got to be able to optimize the content, and the means by which we relay what’s pertinent. Here are some of the unorthodox and emerging communication methods for business.
Radio? In a world where we are constantly emailing, phoning, skyping, and texting, radio technology seems outdated and unnecessary. But there are several ways businesses take advantage of radio waves to achieve an immediacy not quite possible with other more typical communication methods. Here are two of the technologies and their uses:
- Walkie-talkie – The two-way radio, or walkie-talkie, allows conference-style communication on the fly. As opposed to the video-conference, teleconference, mass email, instant message, or other group communication method, a walkie-talkie group discussion can take place impromptu, anywhere within range, as long as all members of the group are on the same channel. There’s the added bonus of not using cell phone data. Walkie-talkies works great for any business where the team is tight and informal, and snap decisions are de rigeur.
- RFID – At once controversial yet intriguing, the Radio Frequency Identification chip uses electronic readers and tags to communicate data about any item (or person) via radio. RFID is a key component in the advancement of the Internet of Things. Manufacturers and retailers can decide where they want to plant the chips and what data they want to collect from them. In one new development, the NFL is using RFID chips to track and report player stats in real time. Critics are concerned the proliferation of RFID will result in privacy infringement. The same critique could be applied to the entire Internet of Things, however.
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is quickly emerging as a popular and effective alternative to the PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network). PSTN is the analog-based network traditional telephone service providers use. VoIP uses the internet’s connectivity to convert and digitally transmit analog phone signals. Businesses can also set up their own internal private network, essentially a private internet, whereby employees can use VoIP-enabled phones to communicate without using their cell phone’s network. This saves money.
An advanced use for VoIP, SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) trunking is a bundle that allows multimedia communications—including voice, data, and video—from business VoIP phones to anyone with a mobile device or landline. Businesses merely have to set up a SIP trunk through an Internet Telephony Service Provider to allow the capability for multiple lines of simultaneous phone communication over the internet.
As employees continue to spend more time browsing the internet and talking on social networks, instant messaging (IM) can eliminate the need to compose email—the message pops up immediately after you hit send. This merely requires a shared platform, whether it be Google+, Skype, or Facebook. Instant messaging happens in real-time and users are aware of whether or not the recipient is online and able to receive the message. IM also facilitates group discussion, and this is especially helpful if employees are on their computers or cell phones constantly, as is often the case.
Business communication apps are specialized for what you do: business. Many find Google Hangouts to be sufficient for IM needs, but a specialized application can take instant messaging to the nth power by adding a host of other functions to streamline communication. Here are some great apps with which to become familiar.
- Evernote – In a very real way, the content your business creates is your form of interacting with the outside world. At the same time, internal communications determine the coherency and success of content. This app is a lot like sticky notes you write to yourself: they can become content notes, and they can become notes you share with colleagues. There’s a free version, and along with helping you organize notes for projects, Evernote allows you to clip web pages, store images, take audio notes, and share them across devices and among coworkers in real time.
- Skype – Free phone and free video chat, all over the world, makes Skype an essential business tool you’re pretty much expected to use. And you can use it to text. Say no more.
- OfficeChat – The word free is coming up a lot here, and it applies to this app, too. This is a streamlined and simple communication app that is secure, and HIPAA compliant, in case you’re in a medical, psychological, or social work field. You can IM, hold virtual meetings, share pictures and video, and confirm deliveries. It works on all platforms.
- Yammer – This is a social network private to your business, so you get the benefits of relaxed interaction without the privacy risks of public networks. Since social networking is a forum most, if not all, tech-savvy employees are used to, Yammer could very well facilitate those ah-ha moments, those creative groups that make social interaction exciting and galvanizing for business.
- Team on the Run – With a huge emphasis on security, this app encapsulates the type of advanced communication technologies I’m discussing here. Team on the Run provides encrypted mobile messaging, a walkie-talkie feature, cloud access, corporate directories, file sharing, an admin web portal, and encrypted team webchat that syncs to your cell phone or desktop. Available in English, French, and Spanish, Team on the Run is poised to take advantage of the globalization of business.
It’s tough to imagine going beyond the plethora of options for business communications we have today. The answer as to what’s next may very well be a combination of everything we’re seeing here.
Imagine a device that facilitates instant communication but also uses RFID technology to communicate with a main server about what’s being communicated—a log-keeper that not only keeps track but uses data analysis for feedback, contributing to the conversation.
Whatever is next, now is the perfect time to take advantage of current tech for advanced communication. Do you have any thoughts on what’s next?
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