The New Wave of Business Communications

Have you tried the new Rockmelt web browser yet? If not, you can sign up for Rockmelt here or if you have a Facebook friend who’s already using Rockmelt, ask them to send you an invitation. Rockmelt is leveraging Facebook as the primary channel to distribute their new browser to the world – so rather than follow the conventional marketing path of making a Rockmelt browser download immediately available to any and all users and then hoping it goes viral through social networks, the folks at Rockmelt are making their new browser available by invitation only from your Facebook network.

I won’t offer up a blow-by-blow review of the Rockmelt browser – you can decide on your own whether you like it or not. But I will say that Rockmelt integrates web browsing with social media quite well. Maybe even too well. If you have even the slightest addiction to social media (how long can you go without checking your Facebook account?), Rockmelt is going to make it waaaay too easy to feed your habit. Which is great when you’re on your own time – but what about at work? Those of you who use a web browser as part of your job may find Rockmelt too great of a temptation to blur the lines between your social media communications and your business communications.

There are valid security and liability reasons why most companies use a dedicated email solution for their business communications. But as social media’s reach continues to expand, the communication channels used between companies and their clients are shifting too. Monica Basso, a research VP for Gartner (a respected technology research firm) recently said “Today, social paradigms are converging with e-mail, instant messaging (IM) and presence, creating new collaboration styles. The rigid distinction between e-mail and social networks will erode. E-mail will take on many social attributes, such as contact brokering, while social networks will develop richer e-mail capabilities.”

Want more evidence? Facebook is rumored to have developed its own ‘gmail killer’ and plans to release it shortly. Don’t expect Google to take that challenge lying down…

Gen Y are definitely driving much of this change, but consider that Gen Z (the “Net Generation” of people born between the early 1990s and the late 2000s) is growing up with social media as their primary means of communication, so when they begin to enter the workplace, the idea of separate, stand-alone solutions for email, web browsing, social media and IM will seem clunky and completely outdated. Add in Gen Z’s heavy usage of mobile devices and you’ll begin to see how there’s a coming sea change in business communications and related IT issues.

As technology progressively blurs the lines between social media and business communications, the lines between our personal and professional lives will continue to blur, as well. This, in turn, will create interesting new challenges and issues for employers and employees alike – and not just with technology.

But that’s another blog…