There are approximately 2 billion smartphone users in the world today. On those devices, there are 3.8 billion active monthly users of one of the top ten over the top messaging service. On top of that we have core SMS and iMessages as well, as well as consumer and enterprise email (half of all emails are opened on mobile devices). It seems reasonable to estimate that a typical user is working with at least 4 messaging solutions in a given month. Despite that we are continuing to see innovation and new offerings, and a renewed focused on enterprise messaging.
Samsung’s recent announcement about the opening of the beta of their Knox messaging service brings them into this space with an enterprise offering, built on their mobile security platform. As we noted in the first post in this sponsored series building security into features after the fact is a real challenge. Knox, Samsung’s security platform, is well supported by Good and others, but there seems some real rationale in having messaging being part of the containerized secure solution. Historically, once SMS became a key feature, messaging was very much a core part of a mobile operating system, though OTT messaging has to some extent broken that linkage.
Only one of the top ten messaging services is from a device manufacturer- why is Samsung entering this space? It took some for device manufacturers to enter this area. One of the usual explanations for that is that SMS was a cash cow for one of the device manufacturers’ main channels (the operators), so it wasn’t obvious that those operators would be willing to support this. It was a classic Innovator’s Dilemma (though to be precise the carriers couldn’t really be said to be the innovators here- Nokia has a better claim to be the originator of SMS than any carrier, but it was clearly the carriers who claimed the lion’s share of the value). Perhaps as important is that OTT messaging services require a service provider type infrastructure (or a pure peer-to-peer type solution). For many years Blackberry was the only integrated provider here with their BBM service. It takes quite different skills to manage cloud based services, especially ones which have multiple end clients and many different geographies.
At the same time that OTT messaging has become standard, BYOD (bring your own device) is also increasingly supported by businesses. Will BYOMessaging follow? Why not just Facebook message my colleague? One of the key aspects of messaging systems is identity. Eddy@hotmail.com might well be the same person as email@example.com but proving that, and enabling people to find each other requires systems to manage identity. In regulated environments this is even more important. It is as, if not more, important as any single messaging feature that the solution be tightly linked to the business identity system.
Security and messaging logging are also extremely important here. The early design promise of what has become Skype for Business was around secure enterprise messaging on the PC, especially for finance. As mobile becomes the default working mode for more and more people and businesses securing mobile messages has become critical- “in today’s world mobile is an inescapable interface for collaborative communications,” said Barry Castle, CMO of Symphony Communications, a secure messaging and productivity company, backed by 18 buy- and sell-side financial services companies who are deploying and using the service today.
To be enterprise-ready a solution also needs to be cross platform, and realistically cross device platform. There is more to this than simply providing multiple clients- having messages sync across devices, from mobile to PC to tablet and web, is going to be critical for usability.
For many businesses it is also important that messaging, whether independent or part of the mobile OS, integrates with third party applications, and not just enterprise mobile management solutions. Mobile is the way users work today, so making sure mobile business apps integrate with business communications is going to be critical to ensuring individual users, as well as their managers and Chief Security Officers, are getting value from the solutions. In consumer services messaging can be very single purpose, for business users it’s much more important that it be integrated with other applications.
BYOD is a reality today, and many of these mobile devices will have multiple messaging solutions. Security, business identity, management and application integration all mean that BYOMessaging will take longer to emerge.