I have been out on the Internet since, more or less, beginning of 1997 (Yes, I know, quite some time already), and back then and for a number of different years I started to use different Instant Messaging tools in order to get in touch with my colleagues, friends and family. That is why in the end I ended up getting multiple userid accounts: AOL, ICQ, MSN, Yahoo, Jabber, etc. You name it, and I have an account for it, I am sure. But over the last few months now I have noticed a change in the different tools I use for some real-time collaboration.
Indeed, over the last few months I have noticed how I am switching away, little by little, from the traditional Instant Messaging tools into VoIP / IM Tools. I mean, I cannot remember any longer when it was the last time that I fired up ICQ or MSN. Instead, I am finding out that every single morning when I come to work I start loading tools like Skype, Damaka, and, lately, with some of my colleagues, Google Talk. And I seem to be quite content with that because by now I have convinced most of my contacts to make the switch. And it certainly has been worth while the effort.
I am not sure if you have noticed it or not but from the perspective of knowledge sharing, collaborating and engaging much more actively with a group of people VoIP tools seem to be much more powerful than traditional IM tools. Why?, you may be wondering. Well, I am not really too sure about it but I am finding out that I get to establish a conversation via voice with folks a lot easier than with IM. In some cases people do not seem, nor want, to be fast typists, so collaborating closely with someone feeling that way becomes a bit difficult and slow sometimes. However, engaging with them using voice tools certainly does help. A lot.
Plus the fact that for most of the VoIP tools out there we can find different options to record the conversations and revisit them back whenever we would need to, which will help a whole lot more whenever we would need to try to capture meeting minutes, action items, ideas, thoughts, etc. etc. And finally, more and more of those VoIP tools are also putting together video conferencing capabilities, which will make it even easier to relate to people and get to know them by allowing us to put a face behind the voice, a key item to help boost your trust levels with your peers and therefore get much more meaningful exchange of knowledge and information.
That is why I was quite content to see that Festoon now provides video conferencing support not only to Skype, but also with Google Talk, all under the same executable. I am just wondering when Damaka would be added to the list. I mean, with over 1 million downloads you would expect that such a fantastic VoIP tool would be beyond the mark of having reached a significant enough critical mass. So as these tools get better and better and make collaboration a whole lot easier I am finding out that I get to use traditional IM tools less and less. And best part of it is that most of my colleagues and friends feel the same way, so converting them hasn’t been too difficult. So how about you ? Have you moved away already from Instant Messaging tools or are you still too afraid to jump into the VoIP bandwagon? What do you think ? Will you ever make the switch?