Recently developed computer-based communication technologies, such as instant messaging (IM), wikis, and blogs, are beginning to influence the way individuals communicate ideas and information in a number of diverse fields.
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The business field has been one of the sectors affected by the new emerging communication technologies, one of them being instant messaging. “Instant messaging (IM) is a form of real-time direct text-based communication between two or more people using personal computers: texts are conveyed over a network, such as the Internet. More advanced instant messaging software clients also allow enhanced modes of communication, such as live voice or video calling” (Perkins, 2008, 44). It has brought a change in communication since it is faster than email; it does not involve many sending procedures like the emails.
The application can also be used for communication with many people simultaneously using different windows, and also, one can save a contact list for preferred friends and coworkers. Generally, the features of the application are: instant messages by chatting, one can also create a chat too, there are web links to share popular sites, people can send each other videos, people can also share files directly, individuals can also talk over the Internet, and also get real-time news such as stock quotes. However, the business field players, including corporate managers and network administrators, have had different views on the application because it has its advantages and disadvantages.
Instant messaging advantages and disadvantages
The first advantage is that it is very fast; questions and answers can be answered in real-time, and also, news can be passed real quick hence enhancing efficiency in the business field. It also helps to communicate with people that are far away; instant messaging with employees, customers, and coworkers abroad reduces the company’s long-distance phone bills because voice conversations, as well as video services, are now available on most instant message services.
The application also enables real-time e-communication for workers with busy schedules since the messages are easy to send; coworkers at different locations and working on the same project can communicate easily in real-time. The application also has a conference chatting setting through which a workgroup can do their work. Instant messages help to reduce spam because one can rarely get unnecessary messages. Employees can also get information from a colleague while still on the phone with a customer, and lastly, the application can be used for advertising purposes, therefore increasing sales and business popularity.
However, the application has its disadvantages considering that it is more of a social program than a business site. “Proprietary software: While it is now possible to use a software that lets you connect to multiple instant message services, most services only let you send messages to other users or add them to your contact list using the same instant messenger you do hence trying to mandate a particular messenger can be difficult, especially if employees are attached to specific programs” (Roth, &Taraborelli, 2008, 19). The program can also cause bandwidth and storage consumption problems because such networks usually post pictures, music, videos, and other files that require a lot of space; hence downloading them can cause problems in the company’s internet infrastructure.
The programs also create a security problem for the company’s database because the links sometimes come with viruses, spyware, and Internet worms: This can lead to loss of information or corruption of files, which is very dangerous for the business. The application can also cause a decrease in productivity among the employees because they might spend time chatting with friends while others spend time on social networks. The applications can also be used to express malice amongst employees and also towards the executives, therefore causing conflict, and lastly, the application only allows short messages; hence it is difficult to send large messages making emails better.
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Wikis advantages and disadvantages
“Wiki is a piece of server software that allows users to freely create and edit Web page content using any Web browser. Wiki supports hyperlinks and has simple text syntax for creating new pages and crosslinks between internal pages on the fly” (Jarvis, 2008, 32).
The idea of open editing is a common feature in Wiki because people can edit a web site and also add information on the site. In business, sometimes, work is done in teams, and such work often requires contributions from third parties because the information needed is usually diverse. Chatting and use of emails are very cumbersome to use in this situation because of the many emails and messages that would be sent; therefore, the better option becomes the wikis. “Wikis enables ad-hoc business processes, data collection, and team interaction and are often disposed of after the task is complete or the needs change” (Jarvis, 2008, 33).
People from outside can edit the Wiki provided by a company seeking information, therefore providing diverse ideas from the business. This increases efficiency and improves team cooperation, which is very necessary for any company. The use of wikis and blogs also helps to create a strong, creative business environment, therefore enhancing production. Wikis, however, have a problem because people might misuse it and provide unwanted information on the site.
Others might place malicious ware on the site that can destroy all the other information, therefore making all other ideas useless. Some users can also repetitively edit only one page of the site ignoring the others: “Some wiki software allows an administrator to stop such edit wars by locking a page from further editing” (Pannunzio, 2008, 6). Wikis can also cause security issues for the project being done because unnecessary information might go outside to competitors. Wikis also may make the employees lazy by depending on them to perform their duties; and in case there are no internet services, they cannot be innovative and solve issues by themselves (Roth, &Taraborelli, 2008, 18)
Many businesses have welcomed these new communication developments for use in communication, seeking information, and even advertisements for products. Social networking sites might be cheap and efficient for advertising and communication, but companies also need to establish some controls so as to handle issues like business relevance information security, personal usage, and site restrictions, legal liability, and employees’ productivity. The management should create time and set aside resources to address these issues so that the sites can be used to increase efficiency and productivity in the company rather than impede it.
Jarvis, J (2008) Police your marks in a wiki world, Managing Intellectual Property, 32, 33.
Pannunzio, C, (2008) Leverage the power of social media, Journal of Financial Planning; 6.
Perkins, B (2008) Computerworld, ABI/INFORM Global, pg. 44.
Roth, C, &Taraborelli (2008) Measuring wiki viability: An empirical assessment of the social dynamics of a large sample of wikis, The Centre for Research in Social Simulation, 18, 19.