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ChatOps: when chatting becomes productive

March 16, 2016

ChatOps: when chatting becomes productive

This post is also available in: Spanish

So as you may have noticed, we just released a chat bot plugin for Pandora FMS in order to adapt Pandora to the growing tendency around ChatOps and its use. In spite of this, you may still wondering exactly what ChatOps is all about. I mean, hasn’t chat been around for the longest? Haven’t chat bots been present since IRC chats? The answer is YES, but not like this, now we’re at a time when it’s all about the next step; that’s ChatOps.

Breaking it down, it comes to something like “getting work done while you communicate and also through communication”. This means that the work that ChatOps is trying to get at is to be able to operate and execute different tasks from your chat manager, and be able to retransmit necessary information to different people on your work team at the same time. This means that communication, and therefore workflow, are executed closer to real time values.

So on the practical side we can see why ChatOps is a new big thing but, does it offer anything else? Just tweaking a chat bot to do more things, or having a better chat client shouldn’t cut it, and it doesn’t. Another one of the main goals intended with ChatOps is to keep communication amongst work-team members as high and positive as it can be. This has the double purpose of increasing task completion and in general making the workflow better, as well as keeping things human. Let’s not forget that however technology may advanced, it’s quite clear that we’re still humans, and that makes us still social. Under this principle it’s safe to assume that the better we communicate with those who surround us, the better and happier we’ll work. If you perceive your tasks as something that can be easily shared or talked about with people who have the same concerns or tasks as you, then it becomes less of a nuisance to execute, and more enjoyable because there’s person to person communication involved.

Lastly, let’s not forget the practical aspect of ChatOps and chat managers for  those people that work freelance or from a distance. Being able to communicate with your workmates, no matter where you are, is probably one of the greatest advantages that chat managers nowadays provide. Forget about having to have your PC running at all times in order to find new things out about your work for that day, now you can even receive and send messages or run tasks from mobile devices that have an internet connection.

Personally, as a company, we’ve used a couple of ChatOps integrated clients and they all have proven to raise our productivity. We now use Mattermost, mainly because of the possibility it gives to self-host your chat environment, among all the features expected from a ChatOps client (be it terminal, bot, 3rd party integrations, etc). We have also used the most well known ChatOps client: Slack, which had all of the same features as Mattermost, except for self-hosting; and it had the main difference of being proprietary software, therefore limited to its integrations. Other clients for ChatOps are ‘Campfire’ which is mentioned on the GitHub video we’ll give the link to below, FlowDock or HipChat.

The main thing we have to say about ChatOps clients in general is that, at least for us, they’ve met expectations: they’ve raised productivity, made communication in the office something easy, and enabled the chance for freelance workers or at-home employees to maintain fluent communication with the rest of the team. Not to mention it can also make communication something fun, especially when given the chance to create off-topic channels so employees can have a place for free expression.

I do hope this article is useful for clearing up any doubts on ChatOps and some of its functions, or at least on why it’s this important. For further information look up Mattermost, Slack and a seminar available from GitHub on youtube.

Also, be sure to check out our integration for Pandora FMS and ChatOps. Don’t forget to comment if you liked or disliked this article. If you consider we forgot to mention any important details, also comment and we’ll work to correct it A.S.A.P.


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