It’s good to talk, but it’s better to be open


By Yvette Jackson, Global Head of Collaboration Services, Thomson Reuters

We need to change the conversation about the future of instant messaging systems in our industry.  All the talk about which platform will emerge as the dominant player misses the point about what the industry actually needs – an open approach to messaging systems that can help businesses grow, not closed systems that can only hold them back.

The reality is that different communities within the financial industry have grown up using different networks. If you ask any commodities trader, they’ll tell you they love Yahoo!. If you ask any back office worker, it’s more than likely they’ll tell you their communications channel of choice is Microsoft Lync. But if you ask both individuals if these services join up, chances are they’ll say no.  And if you ask them if it would be useful if they did – like I do regularly – they will give you a resounding yes.

With financial institutions relying on instant messaging networks to facilitate large amounts of business transactions, as well as to build and maintain strong client relationships, it’s hard to understand why these systems remain so complicated and out of touch with their users’ needs. Relying, for mission critical activities, on varied and closed systems that don’t talk to each other results in increased costs, more inefficiencies, less transparency and – crucially – missed business opportunities. By joining up disparate messaging systems, the financial services industry would deliver long overdue interconnectivity to professionals, allowing them to speak to colleagues, counterparties and clients regardless of the networks involved.

Yvette Jackson, Thomson Reuters

Yvette Jackson, Thomson Reuters

The primary purpose of instant messaging in our industry is to help maintain the smooth running of business through efficient communication.  It is therefore counterintuitive to continue building closed networks that only allow a user to speak to someone on the same network. Imagine how inconvenient it would be if you could only email someone using the same email service as you.  A Gmail user would only be able to email another Gmail user, and if they wanted to contact someone using Hotmail they’d have to get a Hotmail account as well. That scenario simply doesn’t make sense – so why should we let it persist with instant messaging?

The global business environment abounds in economic and political uncertainty and to stay competitive organisations are realising they need to make themselves more flexible, more efficient and more innovative – and they need communications tools that help this by providing them with as great a reach as possible, not hinder it by putting up barriers.  Open, connected messaging systems can unite the different communities in our industry and provide efficient access to potentially endless opportunities as a result.

In today’s world, if a business wants to succeed, it needs to prioritize the way it communicates. Instant messaging is going to continue to grow as an essential tool in our industry but it needs to be nimble and efficient enough to have a positive impact. If users need instant messaging platforms to connect, communicate and collaborate with each other, then the different networks should allow this. Historically, instant messaging platforms have followed each other down the same, closed-off path – and it clearly isn’t working.

It’s about time we opened up.

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