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Annekathrin Hase By Annekathrin Hase • December 1, 2016

Why no one wants to Own Chat

[From Ownership Challenges to the Emergence of the first Chief Collaboration Officers] 
Chat is ubiquitous. It’s everywhere – literally. In their private life’s, people set up their birthday parties on WhatsApp™ and Facebook. When at work, staff use the enterprise chat alternatives provided by their employers.


More and more corporates recognise the need to provide secure messaging tools to their employees. Yet common questions persist (and can be heard across verticals, functions, continents):

  • What tool is right for the company?
  • How to ensure enterprise-wide adoption?
  • What are the measurable, trackable KPIs to illustrate business value?
  • Who will own the messaging platform – from implementation to ongoing management?
  • And ultimately, who pays for it all?

MindLink has commissioned a research study via Adesso Tech to dig deeper and find answers to those questions. And in order not to boil the ocean, we started in the Financial Services industry.

Prolific users of chat, especially in the trading environment, a recent Capgemini study found that banking is the most digitally savvy sector in terms of digital investment and management readiness. The findings were astonishing and whilst focused on one industry only, raised questions that apply universally. The overwhelming conclusion is that not enough management attention is focused on this integral communication tool. >> View research: Chat & Collaboration Technology in Financial Services

No one wants to Own Chat – But why?

So, where DOES chat sit in the enterprise? Who owns it? Who is tasked with making it a success and boost firms productivity, knowledge management and realise those cost savings?

“No one wants to own chat…cause then you are responsible to report to the regulators…”                                                                    Anonymous Source

This was probably the most telling quote of the entire research study. Chat ownership is no easy feat and right now people seems to shy away from it. Chat isn’t a tool that is self-contained within one department and crosses no boundaries. This isn’t a CRM system used by Sales that Engineering never touches or Jira that Development uses but Marketing rarely has heard the name of.

There are two main challenges with Chat Ownership: 

  1. Chat is ubiquitous. It envelops the entire organisation from top management to customer support from Marketing to Product Development. As such it needs to be many different things to many different people and that requires training in regards to on-boarding (Useful reading: 9 Steps to Ensure Adoption of Your Messaging Tool) but also immense flexibility and sophistication on the side of the chat tool: real-time IM & Group Chat, project management, team communications, system integration, file sharing and archiving…you name it. The new breed of business messaging tools provides this today, so it should be an excuse no longer.

  2. Owning Chat requires a new breed of manager. Maybe a Chief Collaboration Officer so to speak. (Useful reading: The Rise of the CCO) Someone who has an understanding of a multitude of areas, not just IT for implementation but a solid foundational understanding of business needs, a grasp on security & compliance requirements, mobile working and the gravitas to drive adoption. The graphic below illustrates a few areas that the chat owner needs to be aware of, needs to incorporate and interact with.

The first Chat Owners emerge

When speaking to several financial institutions, we have actually found the first owners of Chat. They sit in various places across the organisation: Operations, IT, Front Office etc. They carry titles like Chief Digital Officer, Chief Data Officer, Knowledge Management but also business departments such as Head of Desk, Research, Trade.

There certainly still is no defined, clear-cut owner. But departments step up to the challenge now, having clearly identified the risk of not adopting the latest digital tools and understanding the huge benefits real-time messaging can bring.

Hurray! We have a committed owner. But wait…as one survey respondent pointed out …

“Chat is owned by our department but we are still waiting for the budget”
                                                 Anonymous Source -  Financial Services


>> Read part two of our series: We own Chat but we Won’t Pay for It (coming soon)