It all comes down to the details.
In an ever-evolving web-based social community, applications are becoming increasingly and exponentially more digitized. Millennials like myself are demanding more from our favorite platforms and creating a focus on ease of use, automation, quickness and efficiency.
With the ability to grab my phone, computer or tablet to talk to anyone on the globe at any time, or order a meal to my front door in less than 20 minutes, I have been groomed and conditioned to avoid things that take too long for adjustment and implementation.
I expect connectedness across all devices as soon as they hit the market.
I also need assurance that my peers are doing and enjoying similar things. After being introduced to Spark, a messaging and collaboration system from Cisco, I wondered if this application has the structure to be accepted by my generation, or whether it will fall behind the curve when compared to its competition.
Familiarity and Ease of Use
The amazing thing about this application is the fact that, although it is new to me, the platform’s features are recognizable. I am accustomed to web chat applications, and Spark does a fantastic job of keeping things familiar. Like most messaging programs, the list of conversations is on the left-hand side, the text box is at the bottom and the action menu is on the top right. The color and design are sleek and minimalistic, directly and fluidly matching the theme of my current devices.
The interface is self-explanatory, but to an extent. Although there was a lot of familiarity, there were also a lot of new features to get acclimated to. However, I found that any additional questions I had were answered in one of Cisco’s online informational videos.
Spark in the Classroom
One thing I immediately noticed about the application was its potential to be a very powerful learning tool for classroom settings. Being a student, I started considering the possibility of professors having lectures in Spark spaces, uploading PowerPoints or reading materials and sharing their screen over video chat as they lecture to a class or audience.
There is even a virtual whiteboard that could be implemented for classes like statistics or calculus, where a teacher might need to physically illustrate a concept. If introduced into the classroom as a learning tool, students would be able to quickly take advantage of this feature and inevitably turn it into a social networking tool, as millennials tend to do.
The Social Aspect
The social networking market is currently booming, especially with millennial and generation Z users. I encouraged a few of my friends and coworkers to download Cisco Spark and use it for a few days as our sole form of communication. During the process, I considered their comments and feedback.
Ultimately, they enjoyed the application. Although it took some time for them to become comfortable with the program, they found the features interesting and helpful.
A friend of mine was quick to add the “Gifbot” capability to the chat, which allows the user to implement currently popular ways of communicating through memes and gifs.
We made one group video call which worked seamlessly. The quality was clear, and the conversation carried on as if we were all in the same physical room.
How does Spark compare to other applications?
As previously mentioned, Spark was easy to adopt because of the number of web chat applications my generation is already accustomed to. This begs the question about how the program holds up in comparison with others.
The most common and simple methods of communicating among my peers are text messages and the occasional phone or Facetime call, with Snapchat gaining ground due to its fluid image and video integration. Spark conveniently combined these features into one application.
When it comes to working and communicating in groups, GroupMe is one of the most popular programs. What makes Spark stand out from this application is the ability to manage multiple spaces within the same team, without having to manually and tediously add each member to a new group.
Additionally, you can view all the shared images and documents on the side of the chat log and integrate the voice calling and whiteboard features, which GroupMe lacks.
Unlike GroupMe, I did not find the capability within Spark to “like” or “favorite” individual messages for the group to see. It is a small but relatively important feature, as people often want to show approval of a message in a quick way, without having to type out an additional message.
The main thing that could push Spark to the forefront as a leading web-based messaging system is a more fluid image integration. Cisco should look to Snapchat as an example for how to incorporate quick video and image into conversations.
After all, my fellow millennials are notorious for using images to communicate and having a supposed “short attention span.”