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The One Communication Problem Mobile Devices Still Need to Solve

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The One Communication Problem Mobile Devices Still Need to Solve

July 11, 2017
By Anna Johansson

At this point, it’s hard to imagine life without a mobile device. We rely on our smartphones throughout the day, making work calls, texting friends, and even playing on social media. This one piece of hardware supports texts, calls, video chats, and hundreds of chatting and communication apps.

However, there’s actually a downside to having so many channels for communication: it’s hard to use and keep track of everything at once. And this one problem continues to be the largest communication issue that mobile devices have not solved.

Too Many Mediums

You, like most mobile customers, probably like that you have so many communication options to choose from. It means you can select the perfect method of communication for the situation, and you have more control over what type of information is transmitted. But there are some negative consequences to this, especially in business communities:

  • The paradox of choice. Research shows that having too many choices is actually a bad thing, psychologically. Generally, having an overabundance of potential options makes it harder for you to land on a final decision, and once you’ve made that decision, you tend to be less satisfied with it. With so many app and communication options, users are experiencing small forms of disappointment on a regular basis.
  • Information retrieval. Having so many apps in use is also a problem for information retrieval. Let’s say someone sent you an important set of login credentials, and you can’t remember what they were. If you know they sent them to you via email, you can search for messages that person has sent you, but what if they sent it over your main instant messaging app? What if they sent it over a secondary chat app? This problem grows in intensity with the number of communication apps you use regularly.
  • Personal preferences. Personal preferences also make it difficult to land on a viable communication strategy. Americans increasingly prefer text messaging and email as primary modes of communication, but people who prefer phone calls still exist. Finding common ground here can be difficult, especially in a business setting.
  • Lack of protocol. Finally, businesses struggle to create and enforce communication protocols that dictate what mediums and channels should be used, and when. Without these protocols in place, it’s harder to keep a record of important conversations and keep your organization running efficiently.

How to Overcome These Problems

It wouldn’t be fair to list all the problems associated with having too many communication mediums unless we also came up with some potential solutions:

  • Unified communications. Unified communications is a term that refers to the process of integrating multiple forms of communication with non-real-time communication services. Put simply, that means users within a business can access information sent on one medium, such as voicemail, on another medium, such as email. This greatly improves productivity, consolidates multiple communication mediums together, and makes it simple for employees, since they only have to go to one place to retrieve their inbound communications. In fact, unified communications can provide a 15 percent increase in revenue (or more).
  • Gradual shifts to one mode of communication. We could also work to come together on one mode of communication, designating it as preferential over the others. This could hypothetically solve the problem within an organization or tight social circle, but you’ll still encounter problems when communicating outside that circle. For example, you could try and transition your business to email-only communication, but when you take on a client who prefers phone calls, you’ll be necessarily disrupted.
  • Clearer protocols (from businesses). You can also prevent communication overload and enable your employees to communicate with each other more consistently by establishing clearer protocols on what communication apps should be used (and when). For example, you can designate times and situations where video chatting is a preferable medium, and what types of conversations are mandated to occur over an instant messaging app, where they can be recorded and preserved.

It’s a luxury that our biggest problem with communication is having too many convenient modes of communication available to us. Still, it’s an issue that needs to be explored if we’re going to continue exchanging information efficiently. 

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