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Spiceworks Ziff Davis Study Reveals Most Workers Prefer Messaging Apps Over Email
Spiceworks Ziff Davis (SWZD) published its new report, Workplace Communications in 2022 and Beyond offering insights into workplace communication technologies as the state of remote work evolves. Though adoption of communication solutions for video conferencing and collaboration was already on the rise before the pandemic, challenges only accelerated the need for more agility as much of the workplace went remote at the beginning of the pandemic. 

To better understand what capabilities will be in-demand as the remote workplace evolves, SWZD surveyed 1,000+ IT decision-makers in businesses across North America and Europe.

Key findings from the report include:

  • For internal communications, most end users (51%) prefer real-time business chat apps (e.g., Slack, Microsoft Teams) over email.
  • Analog voice usage continues to fall year-over-year, dropping from a 52% adoption rate in 2019 to 43% over a three-year period.
  • Following rapid adoption increases in 2020, the usage growth of web conferencing apps and business chat apps has leveled off.
  • Most companies (51%) now prefer providers that offer all-encompassing communications solutions.

"Since we started tracking the adoption of and sentiment around business chat apps in 2016, it's become very clear that communication tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams have provided immense value to workers, especially in a remote environment," said Peter Tsai, Head of Technology Insights, SWZD. "Now with a large majority of workers using these tools frequently and ‘digitally-native' workers increasingly entering the workforce, we can expect employee preferences to continue to shift away from email to these more interactive platforms." 

The Future Workplace: Communication Tech Preferences and Adoption

With one-quarter of workers expected to remain at least partially remote post-pandemic, the perception of workplace communications has evolved. Email has lost its status as the default communication medium, as 51% of IT professionals are now in favor of real-time messaging apps (such as Teams and Slack).

Concerns around the lack of security offered by communication platforms early on in the pandemic have eased as vendors have steadily improved their offerings: 63% of companies in 2022 believe their communications tools offer adequate encryption to secure internal and external communications, up from 49% in 2019.

Despite these improvements, there is still work to be done. As workplace communications evolve, it's important for vendors to recognize that there is demand among most organizations (51%) to consolidate functionality into fewer, more all-encompassing solutions. Many organizations now use separate vendors for video conferencing, instant messaging, email, and VoIP solutions.

With more workers using more (often duplicative) communications tools, there's a greater burden on support staff. One-third of IT professionals report that employees in their organization regularly experience technical difficulties with communications tools, up from 28% in 2019. And there's evidence that employees aren't completely satisfied with the communications solutions their companies provide, which is concerning from a security standpoint. Employees are increasingly using unapproved communications tools outside of IT control (currently 37%, up from 31% in 2019).

Opportunities for Communication Tech Vendors

The future employee experience will undoubtedly be different than what they were used to in the more "traditional" workplace setting. Legacy solutions will have to transform, or they will be displaced as more workers increase their usage of chat apps over email, and communication technologies continue to evolve.

Going forward, businesses will increasingly look to consolidate communication functionality into fewer tools. Vendor opportunities will include integrating secure messaging capabilities into their platforms and offering unified communications solutions.

The greatest opportunities for vendors are among large companies. Not only are enterprises (500+ employees) more likely to use modern communications technologies, they plan to adopt them at higher rates in the future. For example, 39% of enterprises currently use unified communications solutions, and an additional 37% of enterprises plan to start using them within the next two years.

Rising reports of technical difficulties and employees surpassing approved communications channels could suggest there's room for improvement in the usability and manageability of these tools as well. Though 52% of enterprises have adopted secure communications platforms, an additional 28% plan to start using them within the next two years - suggesting vendors need to enhance security functionality or risk losing existing customers.

Published Tuesday, May 10, 2022 1:45 PM by David Marshall
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