The transition from email to messaging is in full swing. While the transition in the consumer market has already been completed, more and more enterprises are looking for secure messengers and chat apps to increase productivity, solve the WhatsApp problem, and improve communication with employees and customers in the messaging age. Correspondingly, the demand of companies, corporations and authorities for secure chat apps, communication tools, group chat software and messengers for enterprises grows strongly. The market for secure chat apps and messengers for businesses is not easy to grasp and there are significant differences between vendors and the different product categories. In the following we describe the most important product categories of messaging tools, list the main advantages and disadvantages and name some leading providers:


Unified Communications Tools

The oldest tools for messaging are probably unified communications tools that emerged in the PC era. Unified communications tools combine voice calling, online meeting and instant messaging. Common solutions are Skype for Business, IBM Sametime and Cisco Jabber. The strengths of these tools are found in VOIP, telephone conference and online meeting. The product strategy of these tools is geared towards these features and therefore a comprehensive feature set can be found for this purpose.

The capabilities of unified communications tools in instant messaging are significantly weaker: group chats, sharing of digital content like photos, videos, files and locations, read receipts, etc. - so to speak, all instant messaging features that have made WhatsApp popular. These messaging features are not present or are not up to date. These disadvantages are especially evident on mobile devices, which increasingly dominate the corporate world. The security, data protection, compliance and administration features on mobile devices are also weak compared to the competition.

Advantage:
+ Good for VOIP
+ Good for online meeting
+ Focus on desktop PCs

Disadvantage:
- Very simple group chats
- Weak in sharing digital contents
- No read receipts
- Weak mobile application management
- Hardly security and compliance features

Collaboration and Group Chat Software

Collaboration and group chat software is especially widespread in start-up and IT businesses. The best known collaboration and group chat software is currently Slack. Microsoft has developed a copy of Slack with its product Teams. The user interface of these software tools is based on channels ("channels") for group communication. These channels can be easily combined with other software and services using various integrations. Such integrations are originally made for developers and engineers, and are accordingly collaboration and group chat software is popular with these user groups.

However, the channel-based user interface of collaboration and group chat software puts up resistance among the majority of employees. The employees simply want a user interface like WhatsApp because they know and appreciate that from their private use, but this is something collaboration and group chat software cannot provide. Interestingly, such software tools are also weak in sharing digital content (videos, voice messages, locations) on mobile devices (which are becoming the most important in the enterprise world) and do not offer any read receipts.

Collaboration and group chat software are almost always cloud services with servers in the USA, and data protection, compliance and security requirements of European companies, e.g. the requirements of the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), cannot be not fulfilled. Besides mobile application management and administration features for mobile apps are weak compared to the competition.

Advantage:
+ Good for team channels
+ Numerous integrations
+ Good for startups and IT businesses

Disadvantage:
- No WhatsApp user experience
- Weak in sharing digital contents on mobile devices
- No read receipts
- No European data protection and security standards
- Cloud in the USA and no private cloud or on-premise solutions
- Weak mobile application management

Secure Messenger for Enterprises

A rapidly growing product category are secure messengers for enterprises and government agencies. The WhatsApp problem as part of the shadow IT is widespread, and companies are increasingly seeking secure messengers for enterprises and public authorities as a WhatsApp alternative. A well-known messenger for enterprises and government agencies is Teamwire. These messengers have a user interface like WhatsApp, and offer basically the same features and a very similar user experience. This is particularly beneficial for a broad acceptance of employees of such a messenger.

Secure messengers for enterprises and public authorities provide professional group chats and channels, and are characterized by comprehensive group communication features (including administrator rights and read receipts for group chats). In addition, these messenger offer features, that are specifically designed for business and government use cases, can be integrated into the IT ecosystem and are available for mobile devices and desktops. All these things increase the productivity and improve the communication.

A characteristic of a secure messenger for enterprises and government agencies is strong data protection, high security and company-wide compliance. Messengers like Teamwire already comply with the upcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The cloud locations of secure messengers for enterprises and public authorities are typically in countries of the European Union. However, secure messengers often also offer private cloud and on-premise solutions. Especially for mobile devices, there are advanced administration controls to easily roll-out as well as manage the apps and security features to protect corporate data.

Secure messengers for enterprises and government agencies usually focus product development on messaging, because messaging is the biggest growth area in the market. Features such as VOIP or Online Meeting are usually not found in secure messengers.

Advantage:
+ WhatsApp user experience
+ Good for group chats and team channels
+ Comprehensive messaging features on mobile devices and desktops
+ Strong European data protection and high security standards
+ European cloud, private cloud and on-premise solutions
+ Comprehensive mobile application management

Disadvantage:
- No VOIP or online meeting

Employee Engagement Apps

Employee engagement apps are primarily for HR use cases. The goal of these apps is to motivate employees, to spread success stories and to get feedback on surveys. Evaluations of surveys and the associated analysis are among the strengths of employee engagement apps. However, messaging features on the other hand are weak. Employee engagement apps usually try to combine social networking and instant messaging features together with HR requirements. Accordingly, such apps are not always intuitive (no WhatsApp user experience) and the feature set does not go beyond the basic messaging functionalities.

With regard to data protection, security and compliance, employee engagement apps are clearly at a disadvantage. This also applies to administration and mobile application management. Also, such apps are usually only available as cloud services and often only encrypt the transport channel.

Advantage:
+ Good for surveys
+ Focus on HR use cases
+ Possibly useable as a mobile intranet

Disadvantage:
- No WhatsApp user experience
- Only very limited features for messaging and group chats
- Weak sharing of digital contents and no read receipts
- Weak data protection and security standards
- No private cloud or on-premise solutions
- Weak mobile application management
- No VOIP or online meeting

Enterprise Social Networks

The same features as Facebook but for companies - that is how enterprise social networks can be explained. The main features are usually a newsfeed with status updates, groups for different teams, profile pages and instant messaging. Well-known enterprise social networks are Yammer and Jive. Similar to unified communications tools and employee engagement apps (see above), enterprise social networks have disadvantages in instant messaging: features for group chats, for sharing of digital content and for reading receipts do not meet all the requirements of enterprises and government agencies nowadays. The benchmark of employees is WhatsApp and enterprise social networks fall short of expectations here.

Most enterprise social networks are vendors from the USA and cloud services without server sites in Europe. Data protection, compliance and security requirements of European enterprises cannot be fully met.

Advantage:
+ Good for sharing corporate news
+ Good for networking within the enterprise
+ Possibly useable as internal wiki pages

Disadvantage:
- No WhatsApp user experience
- Only very limited features for messaging and group chats
- Weak sharing of digital contents and no read receipts
- Weak data protection and security standards
- No private cloud or on-premise solutions
- Weak mobile application management
- No VOIP or online meeting

Secure Consumer Messaging Apps

There are a number of secure consumer messaging apps that work like WhatsApp and promote better data protection and security. Examples for such apps are Signal and Telegram.

The main problem with secure consumer messaging apps is that they are not suitable for enterprises and government agencies. On the one hand, there is a lack of user management and the necessary administration features for use in enterprises and public authorities. There is also no mobile application management and no support for MDM/EMM solutions. On the other hand, secure consumer messaging apps are not compliant with the data protection and security requirements of European enterprises and government agencies. Besides there are no policies and controls to ensure company-wide compliance.

Advantage:
+ WhatsApp user experience
+ Comprehensive messaging features

Disadvantage:
- No user management and administration features
- Data protection and security requirements not met
- No private cloud or on-premise solutions
- No integration into the IT ecosystem
- No mobile application management


If you have questions about theses product categories, are looking for a secure chat app or a secure messenger for enterprises, and want to be informed about Teamwire, please contact us.

 

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