SHARE



ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Dave Michels
Dave Michels is a Principal Analyst at TalkingPointz. His unique perspective on unified communications comes from a career involving telecommunications...
Read Full Bio >>
SHARE



Dave Michels | October 24, 2016 |

 
   

Time to Kill IM

Time to Kill IM Workstream messaging tools are the right tool for modern business needs.

Workstream messaging tools are the right tool for modern business needs.

Instant messaging/presence (IM/p) use for enterprise communications in the '90s was a real breakthrough -- the start of enterprise messaging and a critical incentive for replacing TDM PBX systems with VoIP-enabled, unified communications solutions. But the world has moved past IM, and now it's time for the UC industry to let it go.

UC IM dates back to the early '90s when the Internet was still new, and consumers were discovering the Internet through popular services such as America Online (AOL), Yahoo!, and Microsoft Network (MSN). This was before Skype, Facebook, and the smartphone.

The early UC suites bundled IM/p with voice. It became possible to time calls with presence and assumed availability. IM hasn't really changed much since, but the world has.

IM severely limits modern communications that involve more than two people and more than one organization. Phone numbers, fax, and emails work between organizations. While there are some examples of inter-organizational IM/p, they are exceptions. IM/p is typically the only enterprise communications tool limited to internal conversations.

Interoperable IM/p has been a goal for many years. NextPlane, with UC federation, offers a standalone, billable service for IM/p interoperability -- a good solution for companies that wish to extend IM/p to specific business partners. But native integrations remain elusive.

The SIP folks tried to expand into IM with SIP for Instant Messaging and Presence Leverage Extensions (SIMPLE), though it never gained widespread adoption. XML-based Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol (XMPP) has broader support, but is restrictive and difficult to implement.

Traditional IM/p systems were designed for 1:1 communications, and most are poor at group communications, especially with the added requirements of persistence and search. Both Cisco Jabber and Microsoft Skype for Business/Lync Server require additional resources to enable persistent rooms. Skype for Business Online does not offer persistent groups at all, nor does IBM Sametime.

It's time to kill enterprise IM/p. It's obsolete, limited, and stifles communications and collaboration. Plus, its replacement has already arrived -- workstream messaging (sometimes referred to as workstream collaboration). (See related article, "A Modality With No Name.")

Workstream messaging solutions such as Slack, Cisco Spark, Fuze Topics, Mitel MiTeam, Unify Circuit, Atlassian HipChat, Interactive Intelligence Communicate, RingCentral Glip, and Redbooth are effectively the next generation of IM/p. Key differences include:

  • Native design and support for groups
  • Persistence
  • Search and discovery
  • Native support for inter-organizational participation (most workstream messaging solutions allow participants from multiple organizations; this is not the same as federation where organizations use the same or different solution for messaging and each wants the conversations and content recorded in their own system)
  • Deep integrations with enterprise applications
  • Consolidation of people, content, and communications into a single tool

With IM/p, UC companies had the right idea for multimodal conversations, but need to recognize that continued investment in IM is a bet on the wrong horse. Late as UC companies are to workstream messaging, they can leverage their installed bases with integrated workstream messaging solutions.

Slack is reporting four million daily active users. Facebook has announced its new Workplace solution (see related article, "Facebook Ready for the Enterprise... at Long Last"). These services tout a single app for all communications, yet lack telephony and PSTN services. UC customers have a choice: Stick with IM and let new vendors solve their communications and collaboration needs, or kill IM and offer an integrated workstream messaging solution.

Every UC company that offers both IM/p and workstream messaging should abandon IM/p and migrate customers to workstream messaging.

Of course every solution brings with it a new set of problems. The next issue will be getting all of these workstream messaging solutions to interoperate or federate with each other. The current solutions allow external participants, but fail to address shared data ownership or compliance-related concerns.

Some emerging solutions do address interoperability. Sameroom.io offers a service that enables users to create real-time, two-way bridges (or "tubes") between heterogenous systems. For example, Sameroom can connect a persistent chat room in Jabber to a channel in Slack. Additional "tubes" connect more services. The result of this approach is that each party continues to use their own collaboration system and retains their own copy of the shared history and content.

As I wrote in an earlier post, "The PBX Is Back," the UC value proposition has de-evolved to voice. New services are needed, and workstream messaging is an obvious fit. IM is keeping the industry on the bench during the next big transition.

Dave Michels is a contributing editor and analyst at TalkingPointz.

Follow Dave Michels on Twitter and Google+!
@DaveMichels
Dave Michels on Google+





COMMENTS



May 31, 2017

In the days of old, people in suits used to meet at a boardroom table to update each other on their work. Including a remote colleague meant setting a conference phone on the table for in-person pa

April 19, 2017

Now more than ever, enterprise contact centers have a unique opportunity to lead the way towards complete, digital transformation. Moving your contact center to the cloud is a starting point, quick

April 5, 2017

Its no secret that the cloud offers significant benefits to enterprises - including cost reduction, scalability, higher efficiency, and more flexibility. If your phone system and contact center are

May 24, 2017
Mark Winther, head of IDC's global telecom consulting practice, gives us his take on how CPaaS providers evolve beyond the basic building blocks and address maturing enterprise needs.
May 18, 2017
Diane Myers, senior research director at IHS Markit, walks us through her 2017 UC-as-a-service report... and shares what might be to come in 2018.
April 28, 2017
Change isn't easy, but it is necessary. Tune in for advice and perspective from Zeus Kerravala, co-author of a "Digital Transformation for Dummies" special edition.
April 20, 2017
Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
March 9, 2017
Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
March 3, 2017
From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.