Key factors of Instant Messaging System for knowledge sharing in project groups : a phenomenological approach
1University of Oulu, Faculty of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering, Department of Information Processing Science, Information Processing Science
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Instant messaging (IM) and mobile instant messaging (MIM) have grown in the last decade the most used messaging tools among the public and enterprises. IM is used in many platforms and mobile use is giving much more opportunities than ordinary and older way of computer use. Study is trying to find the key factors in IM systems for successful knowledge sharing not only for system development orientated purpose but also for project organizations in general. The study is executed as a phenomenological approach by making five interviews in a semi structured manner for people who are constantly using some kind in IM systems during their daily work or other project like activities. Study has a basis on knowledge creation and transfer theory by Nonaka (1994), he presented the SECI model the abbreviation which consists of the words; socialisation, externalisation, combination and internalisation. The process that has been meant in the SECI model and which leads to the materialising of the new knowledge is directed by the socialisation process in which the tacit knowledge moves through common experiences from one individual to another. First for effective knowledge transfer the IM system should be included with capability for sharing different media files like photos, audio and video files. This study clearly shows that IM users were proposing video, audio and picture messages in IM systems and were supporting knowledge transfer more that just text. Second most important key factor seems to be security related. Security was seen as a problem, because most of the applications were not secure enough for sharing of sensitive information. It was mentioned that SMS is still in use for security or reliability reasons sometimes. SMS was used when message content was in users opinion so critical, that it was not safe to send trough used IM system. Speed and especially fast dissemination of important information was found as a third key factor. Especially IM group chat was found to be used for sharing of important information fast. Usability with the easiness of use and sharing something in IM systems were found as fourth key factor. The fifth key factor was community and importance of the feeling that person is a member of it. Some volunteers were pretty satisfied of the feeling that they were able to follow the conversation in their project group, even though they were not physically in their working place. These findings can be used in practical manner as the issues that are relevant to system developers, or these can be the seen as vital functions to check from new IM system. These findings probably make the SECI model (Nonaka, 1994) seen in different light today. Similarly, as twenty years ago people had discussion around their different challenges face to face, today these conversations and debates can be done in virtual spaces with IM. Not only by text, but enriching the conversation with different media formats. These debates are likely capable to create new knowledge in these virtual IM spaces.
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