Q&A: How enterprise messengers are changing the way we work

Q: What would you say is the current state of the enterprise messaging market in the UK?

A: The European tech industry has grown significantly during the past few years. We have seen sustained innovations and momentum in key tech hubs including London, Madrid, Berlin and Paris. As enterprises increasingly adopt secure enterprise messaging technologies, the market in the UK will continue to grow. 

We estimate that there are less than 5 million users of team messengers across the globe. And the potential market size is about 300-400 million users. Thus, while there are many competitors in the market, we believe that there is enough space for everyone.

Q: How would you say the enterprise messaging market in the UK compares to the market in the US?

A: The US is a more mature market, with a number of enterprise messengers used widely. The market in the UK is yet to catch up in terms of adoption of these messengers, meaning that there is a lot of potential for UK and other European businesses to realise the productivity gains offered by team messenger tools.

Q: Do you see email as a “productivity killer”?

A: Enterprise and team communication and collaboration are going through a paradigm shift. While email was a ubiquitous tool among teams in the past 10-15 years, it has a lot of shortcomings. Emails are slow, asynchronous and cumbersome. Many situations require quicker interaction and faster turnaround time. As our activities have become more collaborative, we need to adopt tools to help teammates collaborate seamlessly, without having to scroll through lengthy email threads. 

Hence, businesses across the globe are seeking faster, more user-friendly and more secure collaboration tools as alternatives to traditional communication tools such as email. In the next few years we will see the enhanced adoption of team messenger and collaboration tools such as Flock.

Q: How do you and your staff use enterprise messaging and productivity apps in your businesses?

A: As a business that prides itself on being nimble and agile, we are big users of software and technology. As our teams are spread across the globe, it’s important for us to be able to connect and collaborate on tasks in real time. That’s why our employees use video conferencing facilities almost on a daily basis. We also use apps for frequent tasks such as setting to-dos, scheduling meetings, conducting opinion polls, and reviewing performance dashboards – all from within Flock. As we are a technology company, our software developers use Flock’s code sharing feature to get work done quickly. 

The impact of these apps on our productivity is instant. For instance, during a team meeting, a manager can immediately assign to-dos from within Flock – without having to log into another app. And the entire team will get notifications in the Flock group whenever a to-do is added, edited or marked as complete. This is obviously much more convenient than having to navigate through a multitude of different apps.

Q: Do you think that enterprise messaging apps are more useful in some industries than others? Why or why not?

A: Enterprise messaging apps are useful across all types of industries and functions. This is because all enterprises have the same basic needs when it comes to communication and collaboration. They all need to get their employees together on a single unified platform.

Also, every business needs to be able to respond to workplace challenges in a timely manner. For instance, HR teams across industries typically need to process claims from their employees for reimbursements. This usually involves a large paper trail, right from the employee submitting bills to the manager signing an approval form. With tools such as Flock these processes can be made paperless and seamless, with everyone having access to documents at all times.

Further, with messaging tools now becoming platforms, enterprises and teams can customise these tools to suit their unique business needs. Flock, for instance, offers the FlockOS platform - where developers can build and select customised apps, bots and integrations, thus paving the way for a tailored work environment. With FlockOS, developers can build apps that are more native, richer and much more powerful than apps found in other team messengers. This is how we help teams solve their problems - by giving them a platform to build their solutions. 

We even let them publish their apps for others to use on the Flock Appstore. For example, the soon to be released Meeting scheduler app created by an outside developer at one of our Flockathons will help users schedule meetings, invite other participants, get participant feedback on meeting slots, and even view their entire calendar at a glance - all from within Flock.

Q: Outside of enterprise messaging apps, what are some other things businesses can do to help their employees be more productive?

A: There are so many ways in which enterprises can help their employees increase their productivity. At the heart of all these strategies is the idea that employees can do their best work when they have access to the best infrastructure. We equip our employees with the best possible infrastructure, such as dual monitors, motorised height adjustable desks, multiple seating options, open work lounges etc. 

Another way to enhance employee productivity is by automating repetitive processes. This can be done by identifying regular, mundane tasks and automating them by using software programmes. In this way, our employees have more time to work on tasks and projects that have superior value.

Q: What trends do you see developing in the UK enterprise messaging market in 2017?

A: Undoubtedly, most of our activities are now collaborative in nature, and so we rely heavily on messaging platforms to get these tasks done. Moving forward, there will be an increasing need for apps and tools that are built within enterprise team messengers. I firmly believe that in the next three to five years chat will soon become the next operating system. 

Q: What technology trends are you most excited about in 2017?

A: It’s a very interesting time for technology, with so many new things on the horizon. Some of the biggest trends to look forward to are machine learning, artificial intelligence, augmented reality/virtual reality, and smart home tech. Companies have already released early-stage products and software for some of these technologies, making it an interesting space to watch.

Further, there has been significant innovation in biotechnology. For instance, work on mapping of the human genome during the past decade has taken us light years ahead. We are now in control of our own evolution. It will be interesting to see how fast we progress on these fronts in the next few years.

Bhavin Turakhia, CEO of Flock
Image source: Shutterstock/violetkaipa