Find out more about Instant Messaging & Chat Software
What is Instant Messaging & Chat Software?
Companies use Instant messaging (IM) and chat software to facilitate communication between their staff members who may be located in different places and countries. Popular websites such as Yahoo and Facebook offer instant chat services for free. Good quality IM solutions provide useful features such as video calling, web conferencing, and VoIP. Advanced platforms offer IP radio, IPTV, and desktop sharing tools. Large enterprises have greater communication needs and therefore they typically invest in installing an internal IM server to serve their thousands of employees. This type of corporate system offers excellent security features such as encryption and conversation archiving tools. These solutions are also compatible with multiple operating systems to cater to the user requirements of the large number of employees. Skype is a popular free IM service that is patronized both by individual users and corporations. You can read our review of Skype as well as other leading products in this category, including the current anointed topper Jive.
Most Popular Instant Messaging & Chat Software
Best Instant Messaging & Chat Software
How To Choose The Best Instant Messaging & Chat Software
Businesses nowadays base decisions on relaying real-time information back and forth, which is exactly how instant messaging & chatting became a top corporate utility. The nature of this software is a social-networking one, but unlike private communication, it helps enterprise collaboration, and supports daily business routines.
IMs have the distinctive advantage of displaying relevant information in no time, which keeps business parties connected wherever they are. In that way, instant messaging extends a business’s online network, and turns collaboration into a remarkable business adventure (unlike conventional office interactions with professional tone, which are de-motivating, to say the least).
The best part of the adventure is that software markets are packed with outstanding creations, and it won’t be difficult to capture the best Instant Messaging & Chat software tools for enterprises, medium and small businesses.
Get to know each product with free trial
A good way to start your search for the best Instant Messaging & Chat software is to register for the free trials of leading apps. This will give you a chance to test drive their key features free of cost. You can register for the free trials of the following list of apps that have received the highest SmartScore and user satisfaction rating in the instant messaging and chat category: Jive reviews, Skype, and Jabber.
- Instant messaging services can be useful for startups and small businesses.
- Mid-sized companies can use this software for secure and private communication.
- Large enterprises can make use of the solution to unite offices and multiple locations.
What are Examples of Instant Messaging & Chat Software?
- Jive: Jive is a social collaboration app for small business and large companies that links team members, upper management employees and others.
- Skype: Skype is a web-based communications app that offers texting, video chat, and international calls.
- Jabber: Jabber is a novel technology concept for open instant messaging (IM). It is also offered as a wireless app for mobile devices.
Types of Instant Messaging & Chat Software
- Single-Protocol IMs – Ideal for beginners to instant messaging and general IM users.
- Multi-Protocol IMs – Ideal for users who have more than one IM account.
- Web messengers – Meant for public computer users such as at a library or internet café.
- Mobile IM clients – Meant for users who like to chat on the go.
- Enterprise IM clients – Perfect for companies and their employees and their customers.
- Portable IM Clients – For IM users who cannot download IM software or prefer not to do so.
Key Features of Instant Messaging & Chat Software
When choosing an IM & Chat program, make sure it has all of these features:
- Drag-and-drop sharing – Makes it easy to share files and documents
- Unlimited chatting – Ideal for enterprise use
- Security (Secure guest access) – Makes sure your conversations are secured
- Screen capture sharing – Helps to troubleshoot issues
- Searching filters – Helps users to easily find what they want
- Synchronization – Synchronize your work for better productivity
- Privacy – Ensures all your conversations are kept private
- Customization – You should be able to customize the software to your needs
Before you choose a software, define what you need
Long story short, a powerful instant messaging & chat system should enable three activities: Private chat; sending/receiving files; and integration. The ‘heavy’ part of choosing one will be to focus on tiny nuances, because that’s what distinguishes one system from the other. Being completely honest, all IMs are built on the same concept and similar practice, which is why the decisive factor is almost always their appearance.
Let’s take a deeper look at the features you should expect from these systems:
- Mobile-friendliness: An IM app is not supposed to stay in the office, but to be ‘carried’ around to make people accessible at all times. Consider that there will be many users who need to install it on their devices, and look for a product that can be used on any of those. Practically, this would mean an app available for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS.
- Unplug options: Having the app on your phone doesn’t mean you will be available all the time. You get to choose when you’re going to use it, so feel free to unplug it once out of the office.
- Important integrations: The system has to integrate with the services you’re already using, and there can be no compromise about that. An app where you can’t import Google Hangouts information, for instance, won’t be of any use to you, so check for similar integrations.
- Alerts & notifications: We all have a social networking-inherited fear that we’re going to miss on an important message, a hazard that is even more dangerous when communicating for business purposes. You need an app that will notify you about a new message instantly, instead of letting that message slide through the cracks and be forgotten.
- Entertainment: Business IMs serve a professional purpose, that stands, but it doesn’t have to mean that employees should chat in dull, plain white windows. Choose an entertaining system with a cute and friendly interface, ideally one with multiple emoticons, animated GIFs, feeds, and social notifications. You will be surprised by how positive this can be to your employees’ attitude.
Benefits of Instant Messaging & Chat Software
There are a lot of business benefits to be related to IM & chat software, all because of the common conception that people need to be ‘put’ in one place when sharing their assignments. These systems unite strangers, build teams and coalitions, and come up with original solutions because few heads reason better than one head. At a corporate level, companies get to collaborate and learn from each other, which is priceless in terms of savings and competition.
In bits and pieces, this is what you will get from a reliable IM & chat program:
- Savings: Multinational companies are the principal beneficiaries of IM & chat software, due the fact that they maintain international employee bases that need to stay connected. Their budget allocators know firsthand how daunting long distance charges can be, and would therefore appreciate a tool to replace international calls. Brokering organizations and shipping agencies should consider it as well, the same as every other company looking to keep team members connected.
- Speed: Saving time is probably the most visible benefit of using IMs, having in mind how convenient they are to every member of the team. Think about it: didn’t it happen to you that a colleague stops replying his phone because he’s busy, or simply annoyed? A message appearing on his screen won’t be half-that intrusive, and it will come with a bunch of emoticons to make it more involving.
- Outstanding customer services: Why not think outside the box, and perceive the IM system as something else than an internal tool? Communicating with customers this way, namely providing support via chat services can make interaction friendlier and more personal. The thing customers will love about it is that they get to contact you anywhere, at any time.
- Controlled interoperability: Managers in their system administration roles love IM & chat software. They get to control and orientate collaboration, and limit interoperability to what is really important for the working process. With an IM on board, managers can count on the fact that employees don’t need a different social network to communicate, and won’t be distracted by it.
- Protected information: Your instant messenger will be your internal system, and it will only allow information to circulate within high security premises empowered by a realistic risk assessment.
Downsides of IM & Chat Software
There aren’t almost any downsides to connecting people and letting them communicate, unless you’re communicating with the wrong person.
Sharing information via IMs & chat services is a great idea for colleagues and business associates, but it can be misused in many ways if it falls into the wrong hands. Internet hackers won’t stop trying to use this ‘open port’ to your computer, and to extract sensitive and valuable information from it. What makes the problem worse is that messages can be intercepted without anyone having a clue about it, and you can only imagine what type of damage this could cause to your company. Therefore, take care!
Most IMs & chat systems are free, based on the vendors’ assumption that you’re going to buy extra sets of freebies and emoticons, or pay for security and customization. Free doesn’t have to mean insecure or low quality – browsing the web for some time will show you that there are many that do an excellent job without costing anything.
The paid ones, on the other hand, have more advanced features, high-priority support, and a stronger security policy, as they grant access only to registered users. Most of the time, vendors sell one-time licenses for unlimited usage, and they accept all payment options (bank wire transfers included). The price depends on the number of users/observers you want to include, and varies between $10 and $1000.
List of Instant Messaging & Chat Software Companies
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