IM is getting a lot of traction in the corporate settings. I have used a top of the line IM tool (Lotus Notes IM) when I was at IBM and I thought it was one of the best tool ever I worked with! We could instantly talk to anyone instead of emailing and also save the conversation for record. The results and sharing was instant and there was no delay in making some important decisions. I also got a chance to work on a project where one part of the team (where I was) in Venezuela and one in the US. The speed at which we accomplished our work was amazing. I would highly recommend this tool as a corporate efficiency increasing program.
This study below confirms the same results.
It seems that teams that collaborate using a instant messageing software like MSN messenger or GoogleTalk generate more ideas than those who reply on email instead.
Researchers from the University of the Pacific in California, US, National Chung Cheng University in Taiwan and Miami University, US, decided to investigate the issue because IM usage is growing so rapidly in the workplace and they wanted to know what consequences this might have for the way organisations work.
The researchers recruited forty two-person teams of graduate business students, and split them into IM and email groups. Each team then had to tackle a business problem facing an auto-repair firm, using only their allocated communication method.
For some reason the paper doesn’t say how long the tests latest. But, on average, the IM teams produced one more idea than those using email. The researchers suggests this may be due to the speed of IM compared to email. Perhaps it also shows that, when it comes to generating ideas, it’s better not to spend to long thinking over your reply, as can happen with email.
This research is far from exhaustive – but it’s interesting to think about the effect different technologies may have on human performance. I wonder if wikis and blogs also boost productivity and creativity? Given that researchers are increasingly using them for collaborations, could they increase the pace of scientific discovery too?