Teamwork is undergoing a huge revolution.
The days of communicating via email are gone with the advent of chat boxes that allow people to easily access and exchange ideas, documents and even office banter with colleagues.
The ease at which these instantaneous messages are delivered has made collaboration much more exciting and faster, breaking down traditional barriers between departments in the workplace.
One company leading this new wave of teamwork collaboration is Australian software company Atlassian, whose mission is transforming office communication through products such as Hipchat and Confluence.
Since its inception in 2002, the company has grown to a market capitalisation of $8 billion, and counts Coca-Cola, Tesla, NASA and eBay among its clients.
Business Insider recently spoke to Sean Regan, head of growth at Hipchat, about the future of teamwork collaboration — here’s what he had to say.
Chat tools will become the dominant platforms
Regan says this market is just getting started and that chat tools will eventually become “the dominant platforms of the next decade”.
“Software is transforming the world at a breakneck pace and we are starting to see business teams adopting software development project management methodologies and working models,” he said.
Chat tools are not only used to produce clearer conversations, they can also surface messages, rather than leaving them buried under endless emails.
But more importantly, it will create a searchable record, meaning any conversations, interactions and decisions are always available.
While Atlassian’s chat platforms were originally intended for software development teams, they have since grown to be staples, used from the marketing department through to sales and legal.
So far, the chat space has been dominated by media and technology workers, but Regan says the potential for group chat is there no matter what industry you’re in.
“HipChat is already seeing strong growth across many industries outside of media and technology, from travel to retail to hospitality and non-profits,” he said.
They include American Express, Expedia, Marriott and Whole Foods just to name a few.
“As non-technical teams uncover what is possible with chat platforms, the need for non-technical interfaces will become critical. DOS commands were replaced by Windows. Commands in chat will be replaced by ChatApps.”
The bot economy will explode
But it’s not just the chat tools themselves that are going to be huge.
“If you thought the mobile app economy exploded, you haven’t seen anything yet. The ChatApp/bot economy has the potential to grow even faster over the long-term because developers can get massive distribution with less development,” says Regan.
HipChat has already introduced bots which respond to specially formatted commands. They’re run by a computer program and can “answer questions, provide automated notifications, deploy the latest version of a website, or provide a source of fun.”
“Chat is where people and machines can come together and have conversations that result in something happening that makes you smarter, more effectively and simplifies work.”
“As this happens workflows will become chat based for individuals and teams. Teams running ChatOps enhance the speed, transparency and workflows between people, teams and technology.”
Last year, Hipchat also began integrating Google Drive into its platform, allowing team members to share presentation slides by posting a direct document URL on the platform.
Other integrations also give users the ability to manage Facebook pages, book Uber rides to work or carpool with colleagues as well as organise meetings on Google Calendar.
The novelty of being able to do everything on one single platform means that workers don’t have to switch around programs all the time.
“In the mobile world a founder with a brilliant idea needed to build an app for iOS, Android, Mac, Windows, Web and Linux. Today, a developer can build that app once for HipChat and get distribution to all devices instantly with inherent virality.”
Collaboration in an era of distributed and remote working
The growth in technology has enabled many to work remotely from home but has also raised questions about communication beyond the traditional 9-6 hours.
“Distributed teams are not the future. Distributed teams are the present,” says Regan.
With these chat tools, people who start work later in the day are also able to catch up on any conversations they have missed earlier in the morning through a searchable record.
On top of this, staff are able to track conversations and make decisions in real-time — instead of trawling through threads in email inboxes.
In a recent post, Australia and New Zealand CEO of Regus — a company that provides office space to business travellers — said that chat programs are critical to improving lines of communication so that staff feel engaged with their work.
He noted that remote-accessible servers and cloud-based messengers were not only cost-effective but could also keep staff updated on output.
“HipChat’s growing customer base confirms that as companies embrace remote teams, real-time synchronous communication tools become critical to productivity,” says Regan.
“Code.org and Buffer are just a couple of examples of companies using HipChat to keep remote teams connected so they can accomplish amazing things together.”