Enterprise communication software has been around for decades and has continuously seen innovation and change.

But the focus has shifted from IT departments to the end users. In the not so distant past, the IT departments had responsibility to investigate the best solutions. Now employees are increasingly vocal about their preferences.

The reason? Digital innovation has spurred tremendous growth in the enterprise communication industry and made it more user friendly for today’s workforce. Today, enterprise collaboration is an office essential.

Shrinking Gap Between Work & Play

When the first iPhone launched in 2007, it was a pivotal moment for employees who previously had separate phones for work and personal use. The rise of easy-to-use messaging apps made people more comfortable with working and communicating on their mobile devices.

Gallup found that nearly four in five full-time US workers view using computers and mobile devices for work after normal business hours as a positive development. Taking that into account along with the popularity of social media platforms, like Facebook, many Americans are comfortable with features like status updates and like buttons.

Popular enterprise communication platforms have borrowed these features instead of building an entirely new interface that people must learn.

Enterprise communication has also borrowed elements that have worked in other digital experiences like gaming.

A survey of American office workers found that 54 percent of respondents would be more likely or much more likely to perform a task if it had “gamified” elements.

An example of this at work is how some platforms employ contribution scoring to incentivize employees to join conversations and share helpful information.

Above all, communication should be simple and efficient and the companies that are winning in enterprise have made significant strides to make features more intuitive, user-friendly and engaging.

Empowering the Individual

The goal of enterprise communication is to empower both the end-user and the organization as a whole, which rings true for the goals of digital experience (DX) as well.

Communication offerings of the past were more focused on one-to-one interaction. But newer platforms emphasize team collaboration and give individuals a convenient and effective way to share their ideas and work with a larger audience.

There is no shortage of collaborative apps and project management tools for teams to choose from that make one-off tools obsolete.

Newer cloud-based solutions are also empowering employees by making it easier for them to use the technology itself.

Older systems were a pain to figure out for the average businessperson and IT support was frequently needed. For example, when SharePoint 2010 was released, it could only be run on the 64-bit (x64) versions of Windows 2008 SP2 and Windows 2008 R2.

By removing such roadblocks, employees feel more confident when using workplace technology and are more likely to enjoy it.

Customizing the Communication Experience

Successful DX stems from targeted, personalized experiences and the proliferation of workplace collaboration choices has made the experience from purchase to implementation more flexible for businesses of all sizes.

Whether you’re a team of three or 3,000, you are more likely to find a service that will accommodate your needs, whereas in the past you could likely find yourself locked into an expensive plan with one of a handful of vendors.

In terms of in-platform customizations, user data can be leveraged to see which features are being used the most and which aren’t being used. From there, managers can better understand what to devote resources to and which areas employees might need training on.

Enterprise communication software providers that move past cut and paste offerings and provide solutions that can be molded to fit a particular client will be more successful.

While digital integrations are part of what makes enterprise collaboration software more useful and enjoyable, it is also a potential downfall when platforms are oversaturated with add-ons that detract from the ultimate goal.

For example, while Slack has many dedicated fans, it is also seen as a workplace distraction that some have been vocal in expressing their dissatisfaction about.

Enterprise communication should go beyond chat – at its best it should be an integrated business operating system that moves along tasks with precision and speed. At its worse, it’s a cluttered space that overwhelms employees.

From fax machines to email to video conferencing, enterprise communication has advanced and improved the flow of workplace communication over the years and with more attention from everyday users, it’s sure to continue growing.

Title image "Talk!!" (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Samrat