Beth Schultz
Beth Schultz is editor of No Jitter and program co-chair for Enterprise Connect. Beth has more than two decades of...
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Beth Schultz | July 28, 2016 |


Adding Next-Gen Messaging into the Mix

Adding Next-Gen Messaging into the Mix Team messaging applications prove necessary for UC platform vendor success and effective enterprise collaboration.

Team messaging applications prove necessary for UC platform vendor success and effective enterprise collaboration.

You may or may not like the idea of supplementing your company's UC portfolio with yet another tool, but chances are you will soon do so, if you haven't already (and perhaps some of your users have already beaten you to it). And what might that be? A next-gen messaging or team collaboration app, of course.

We've written plenty on No Jitter about the rise of such apps and their impact on traditional forms of enterprise communications like email and instant messaging. If you're exploring this new breed of app, here's a quick sample from a year's worth of such coverage to help you out:

Irwin Lazar, vice president and service director at Nemertes Research, nicely summarizes the value such apps bring to the enterprise in the "Give Us All Your Email" piece listed above. "Ultimately, the goal of most team chat apps is to bring the conversational ease of texting in the consumer world into business, tying conversations to context such as projects, roles, and teams," he wrote. Benefits abound, he added, but given that these are early days in terms of technology development and enterprise deployment, so too do challenges.

One big challenge comes with identifying the right next-gen messaging and team collaboration app for your users. In his post, Irwin mentioned that he's tracking 37 different team chat apps... but that was a month ago so don't hold me to that count. I don't know which apps he's watching specifically, but I suspect that, like our own informal collection, it's a mishmash of specialty apps aimed at niche use within the enterprise, apps that have entered the workplace for departmental use, and apps from the UC vendors themselves. The question is, will the growing number of entries in the latter category kill the opportunity for apps in the first two?

In its "Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications" report published earlier this month, Gartner designates these apps ("work stream collaboration" in its terminology) as a necessary adjacency for UC vendors' future success. Half of the 10 vendors profiled in the Magic Quadrant have apparently figured that out and have such apps in their offerings.

At this point it pretty much goes without saying that Cisco, with Spark, and Unify, with Circuit, are leading the way among UC providers in their early dives into this adjacency. Gartner, in fact, placed Unify in the "Visionary" quadrant in part based on the strength of its work stream collaboration solution. Circuit "helps demonstrate a forward-thinking approach to communications," with 2015 enhancements including PSTN telephony and conferencing capabilities, telephony connectors to Unify and third-party platforms, and native WebRTC support, Gartner wrote.

The other Gartner MQ UC vendors that have expanded or have planned extensions of their product portfolios with next-gen messaging and team collaboration apps are:

Enterprise messaging is the future, as Jonathan Rosenberg, CTO for Cisco's Collaboration Business, made clear earlier this month during a Cisco Live presentation on enterprise messaging. Such tools, he said, are about building bridges between communications and business applications and getting work done. "Because of this we have a belief here at Cisco -- we're making a bet, a bet! -- that business messaging is going to be the foundation for the next go-to tool in the office."

As I mentioned in my opening, we hold a similar opinion here at No Jitter and Enterprise Connect -- so much so that we'll be enhancing the conference program for Enterprise Connect 2017 with a track focused on next-gen messaging and team collaboration. Our goal is to provide attendees with in-depth comparisons of team collaboration applications, pointers on how to get a handle on any of these apps that may already be running in an enterprise outside of IT's control, detailed descriptions of how these apps work as well as how (or whether) they integrate with existing communications platforms, and more. Stay tuned for more details on that, and in the meantime, we'd love to hear how your enterprise is handling the new messaging mandate. Share below!

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