What a year it has been! In 2016 the enterprise chat & messaging market has heated up to boiling point. Microsoft launched ‘Teams’ in November, Facebook launched Workplace in October, Slack has raised several hundreds of million in funding and an army of new chat apps have flooded the cloud-messaging market.
Not to speak of the rumoured $8billion acquisition interest from Microsoft in Slack. (Which ultimately went up in smoke.)
But people are confused. What tool to use for what? Which chat app fits which firm, size, business model and user needs? 2017 is the year that the messaging space will come into its own and here is what we are predicting!
- Which Chat Tool for What?
2016 could be defined as hype & confusion. Many vendors seemed to follow the principle: Get in there fast! The market got crowded and companies are spoilt for choice. Choice is generally a good thing unless you can’t see the wood for the trees.
2017 will see chat apps fall into clear categories and serve very specific needs and use cases. Some will focus on cloud-based team and SME communications, some will focus on large corporations, some on private cloud or on premise deployments, some on inter-company or intra-company communication, some will be all about features, some about security… anyways to cut a long story short, categories will become clearer and help end-users make informed decisions as what tool suits their needs.
- Stepping up Security
Data is the most valuable thing a firm holds and hackers are well aware of that. They also know that users like to self-adopt (Five Ways How Shadow IT Puts Your Business At Risk) and that, more often than not, those are the weakest links. Besides the threat of hacks there might be the old and simple data leaks e.g. lost phones, wrong recipients etc. The growing interconnection of devices, apps and systems is adding to the complexity of the problem.
After a string of prominent data breaches, 2017 will see even more scrutiny and vetting via corporate IT departments. Encryption and authentication technology will be expected as will flexible deployment methods. More advanced security measures such as MDM/EMM support will become a more mainstream requirement.
- The CCO – Chat Ownership
We commissioned a piece of research earlier in the year and chat ownership emerged as a core challenge. Where does chat sit in the enterprise? Who owns it? Who is tasked with making it a success and boost firm's productivity, knowledge management and realise those cost savings?
Chat ownership is no easy feat. Chat isn’t a tool that is self-contained within one department – it crosses boundaries/teams/geographies/use cases.
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. 2017 is when we will see the first CCO’s emerge.
>> Useful Reading: No One Owns Chat Within Financial Services Despite Soaring User Adoption
- Bots – It’s all about Connections
Satya Nadella has previously declared “Bots are the new Apps”. ChatBots are a computerized response to something said or requested in messaging channels or the like. The idea is to create a seamless experience for users, who can access services (apps, systems, tools) directly via a messaging app by chatting with a "bot" who pulls in information.
ChatBots and AI will become even more prominent. Companies have long struggled with the multitude (often hundreds) of apps in use within their firms – some via Shadow IT, most not interconnected. The security implications and productivity loss is tangible.
Bots, APIs, Connectors will no longer be a ‘nice to have’ but a ‘must have’ requirement for any messaging tool in 2017.
- Rise of the Eco-System
Messaging connects people and data in the written world. But what became apparent in the past year (and what builds on the Rise of the Bots) is the need for an interconnected framework of apps, tools and systems that goes beyond the core application of messaging. Things like Voice capabilities will be added in 2017. Maybe even video calling. And that will build a knowledge network of people and data that goes beyond the written world.
- Chat as a Content Aggregator
Last but not least, as chat takes over the working world, people are questioning whether it will really replace Email. The reason is simple: Email, with its 2.5billion users, grants universal access and standards so anyone can communicate no matter which Email system they are using. With the number of dispersed chat systems in use, firms might create knowledge silos instead of actually opening up collaboration and data.
To tackle this drawback, the first messaging providers are looking towards becoming Content Aggregators. (MindLink included). Providing interoperability with other chat systems is a key to truly leverage the potential that real-time messaging provides. Imagine one, single user-friendly interface which plugs into various chat tools in use within your firm and which aggregates all data and conversations into one single view - securely, compliantly.