I'm posting this email article that I just got to see what kinds of reactions you all have to it. (Sorry I can't just paste in a link, but it's not online -- at least not yet.)
I admit that I rarely use IM. I actually look for reasons to get away from my desk and talk to someone face-to-face or call. I'll also add that I hardly ever leave voicemail; if the person isn't in, I'll send an email. And the only person who's left me vmail this year has probably been my wife. So I have mixed feelings about this article and want to see what others think -- especially since I know how strongly this group supports face-to-face and phone.
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September 14, 2006
The End of Voice Mail
A few weeks ago, I attended the Advisor Summits here in Phoenix.
Among the sessions I attended was a presentation on Lotus'
Sametime -- an enterprise instant messaging (IM) system that, the company says, offers security and other business-class features to firms who recognize that their customers are online, but don't want employees chatting with 'hottiebaby38'. Sametime's feature set isn't relevant here, but the long-term effects of instant messaging _are_.
Most of us work with other people remotely, at least some of the time... or are too lazy to go up to the 12th floor to see if a coworker is really at her desk.
What struck me about David Marshak's presentation were two
numbers: 3.5 million, and zero. The former is the number of chat messages sent within IBM, he said, and the second number is the total number of voice mail messages he has received in the last three months. Zero. None. Nada.
It's not that Marshak is unpopular. Rather, Marshak said, it's because noone would attempt to contact him by phone unless they knew that he was at his desk, and unless they already knew he was the right contact. And they achieve all that because of the immediacy of instant messaging and online "presence."
I've found the same to be true for myself. It's a lot faster to start an IM conversation (Hi. Are you there?), it's less intrusive (I'm in a meeting, give me a couple minutes), and it's usually more efficient (here, look at this link...). I used to spend half the day on the phone; now the loudest noise emitted from my office is the iChat bloop. "Culturally, we expect a response in a certain amount of time," Marshak explained. "And we escalate to the appropriate method of collaboration."
Yet, a lot of people -- especially developers -- are chopped off from such conversations. In the name of security, some companies prohibit any kind of IM use, which prevents developers from collaborating as effectively as they might. I understand their reasons, honest I do, but such policies are creating an obstacle in the evolution of our digital lifestyles.
How is IM changing your workday? And how do you cope when the company won't let you use it?