Despite the large number of chat platforms available today, only a handful are suitable as an enterprise communications platform. When we specify “enterprise” platform, we’re specifically referring to real-time collaboration programs for internal use, and not live-chat platforms a company would use to communicate with customers.
To find the right platform for your organisation, take a look at the five factors below, and consider how they affect your decision.
By this time in the digital age, you’ve probably noticed that there’s always a free option for every software solution. However, you usually get what you pay for; built-in distractions, spotty reliability, and lack of features are all common issues with any free solution.
That being said, as with a lot of digital products, many chat platforms offer a free trial, and though this is sometimes limited by features or user count, it should give you a good idea of what the platform can offer and if it’s the right fit for your needs.
Another thing to consider is pricing structure—for instance if a particular chat platform increases its price dramatically to accommodate more users. Your business may not exceed that at present, but if you expand, will the chat platform still be an affordable and viable option?
2. Use Case
The term “use case” refers to the methodology that identifies and clarifies your requirements—in this case, for a real-time chat platform.
There are a few simple considerations you can take into account:
Who are you chatting with?
What are you chatting about?
What features would be necessary to facilitate the above two points?
For instance, if the intended use of your platform is to facilitate communication between team members on a software project, your solution would be different than if you wanted to directly chat with sales staff to manage their efforts. Let’s take the first example of team members collaborating on a software project; we already know the answers to the first two questions above, and the answer to the third would likely be that you want a platform that allows you to quick and easily search past posts, as well as reliable file-sharing.
When determining your use case, try not to make your goals too broad or vague. An objective like “hold fewer meetings” or “promote team communication” is too difficult to quantify as a way to evaluate a potential chat platform. Identifying specific use cases will help you cut to the chase when seeking out the right solution for your business.
3. Security & Privacy
For many, security may be an understood feature, one that doesn’t necessarily warrant inclusion in a list like this one. However, consider that the subjects of chats will likely be information sensitive to your business—be it product development, marketing tactics, or even something as simple as sharing private or personal information—and suddenly security and privacy become a crucial distinction.
Most enterprises will want a chat platform that enables private messages, in addition to a general conversation feature. You may have a need for messages that will not be stored for future references, like an “off the record” feature. If you and your users will be sharing trade secrets, such as programming code or an innovative product design, then higher-level encryption becomes a necessity, such as those found on security-specific chat apps likeSnatchApp.
Privacy options in any respectable enterprise chat solution should be configurable to fit specific uses. Be sure to consider the level of security and confidentiality your company requires before settling on any chat platform.
4. Retailer reliability
No company is going to be in business forever, nor can any vendor guarantee support for every version of their product; as platforms and operating systems advance, support for the previous generations wane and eventually die out. For example, what was once known as Google Talk was replaced with Google Hangouts and, in 2016, Google Duo was unveiled. No one can say for sure which versions will be around and for how long; if someone were accustomed to, say, Google Talk for internal messaging and support for it was suddenly dropped, that company would have to find themselves a new solution.
Furthermore, some of the major solution providers design chat platforms as an add-on, which demonstrates a lack of commitment and a possible deficit in stability. Keep these factors in mind when choosing the right platform for your needs; the risk of adopting a new system suddenly may become cost-prohibitive.
5. Integration ability
Although its primary purpose is communication, a capable enterprise chat platform should be able to integrate with other software to utilise their functions directly from a conversation. For example, Slack is a well-known platform for its integration capabilities.
Perhaps the most persuasive argument to heed integration ability in a chat platform is to take advantage of the use of chatbots, colloquially called bots, which is automated software that uses textual cues that trigger programmed actions. In simpler terms, bots respond to typed commands, seeking out keywords or patterns to invoke their function.
For example, the SnatchBot platform, which blends the smartest ML (machine learning) and AI (artificial intelligence) technologies with peerless conversational design, allows for Node.js integration so you can perform functions like calling APIs or interacting with any type of database.
There are several means by which the SnatchBot platform allows your bots to be deployed:
- SMS (for example, Twilio option)
- Any API (like Twitter, Google Calendar, or Trello, to name a few)
- Chat Messenger: Facebook Messenger, Skype, Viber, Telegram, Line, SnatchApp (build once and deploy to conversational channels that reach more than three billion users)
Choosing the right enterprise chat platform is no easy task, but using these five factors to prioritize your needs and seeking out one that offers the chance to utilize bot technology, as well as ties into your productivity solutions, will enable you and your team to collaborate seamlessly, increase workflow, and most important of all, be a step in the right direction for integrating other tech solutions.