Often times the terms Team Chat and Instant Messaging (IM) are used to describe the same idea; online communication via internet-based peer to peer communication programs. The truth is that each of these terms means something specific, however, and each describes a different mode of online communication that serves different goals. In fact, there are a wide range of programs emphasizing one or the other mode of communication. By better understanding where the differences between Team Chat and IM programs lie, users can better understand the advantages of each.
With the evolution of both concepts, different online communication programs have come to emphasize one or the other, but these types of communication are not mutually exclusive. In other words, Team Chat programs can also have direct messaging features, and Instant Messaging programs such as Brosix Instant Messenger have chat features. The question is what the main focus of the program is.
So where do the differences lie between IM and Team Chat? Below are the three main areas that best highlight the differences between the two in terms of their uses, benefits, and security.
The first, and most apparent, the difference between IM and Team Chat lies in the user’s audience. IM began as a one on one means of communication in 1961 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)’s Computation Center. This original IM allowed a limited number of users to log on to the system and send direct messages to each other. The number of users allowed on a network is virtually unlimited now, and while some users still focus on peer to peer IM, many others utilize more recently developed features that allow for direct group conversation. These group conversations are still limited to the people directly involved in them, and thus kept private.
Team Chat, on the other hand, tends to focus on providing online spaces for ongoing conversations, such as chat rooms or channels, with no determined end. The users in each of these open online chat spaces can still be limited, but communication within the space is open to all involved. This makes Team Chat strong in fostering free-flowing discussions on different topics, but not necessarily for specific conversations either one on one or in groups.
Both IM and Team Chat are similar in that they facilitate better communication between people. However, the environments in which they are used tend to be different, as well as the types of conversations they foster. This leads to differences in the needs each addresses and the uses each provides. This is not to say that Team Chat programs don’t allow for direct messaging, for example, or that IM programs don’t have chat rooms features, but rather that the emphasis for each type of program is specific.
With ever-increasing online threats in the modern workplace, businesses have rightfully begun placing more emphasis on their cybersecurity strategies. This is another area where IM and Team Chat programs differ. While all of the main programs offer some level of cybersecurity, IM, and in particular Business IM, tends to lead the field as some such programs place a strong emphasis on the issue. Brosix, for example, uses the same strong data encryption algorithm that the US government uses as part of its holistic approach to cybersecurity.
When it comes to Team Chat programs, security levels tend to not be as high as compared to Business IM, as some recently discovered vulnerabilities in leading programs have illustrated. Much of the difference lies in the nature of the programs, with Business IM intentionally focusing on providing a highly secure internal communication environment. Regardless of where this difference comes from though, potential customers should weigh carefully the different levels of protections that each type of program brings.
Since the 90s IM and Team Chat have both become fast-growing fields in the workplace as businesses realize the benefits of each, and the amount of remote employees has risen. Remote work itself offers a range of benefits, from a more flexible working environment that employees prefer, to lower costs and access to a wider range of experts worldwide. With the changing labor market, spurred on by IT innovations, businesses need a way to better engage their remote workforce beyond the traditional email type communication. This is crucial given that remote workers can often feel neglected for a number of reasons, which can affect their performance.
Team Chat and IM can both offer benefits in this area. The most apparent benefit comes from the increased efficiency of communication, which leads to higher levels of employee engagement and productivity. When team members feel well connected, particularly remote workers, they are more collaborative and communicative. In this regard, IM is particularly strong in directly connecting individuals and groups of people, making it well-suited for concrete project work and remote management, for example. Team Chat, on the other hand, can help to facilitate a general feeling of comradery in teams by providing them with open spaces where they can more informally interact, or brainstorm different ideas.
In the end, IM and Team Chat are both online communication platforms that share certain characteristics, but also have distinct differences. While both aim to better connect people, the way in which they go about it is not the same, and thus the benefits of IM and Team Chat are different.
With IM, particularly Business IM, users are provided secure tools for directly and immediately connecting with each other. This can be done with different forms of peer to peer or group messaging, and a range of collaborative tools. Team Chat focuses mainly on providing ongoing collaborative spaces that different users can access, creating ongoing virtual conversations. In the end it’s up to each potential customer to weigh the strengths of each type of program in order to make the right choice for his or her business.