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Enterprise messaging services fight to make themselves heard, but are they doomed already?

Jon Gold | May 14, 2014
Odds are, you probably don't communicate with friends and family the same way you did a decade ago. The rise of the text message and the fall of the phone call as ways to stay in touch has been precipitous, even if the centrality of email has been unquestioned for far longer than 10 years.

"[Messaging] needs to be connected to some other critical business service or process," she says. "So it's a salesperson that needs to be connected to the opportunities or leads or contacts or some kind of consolidated contact list."

Absent some other important selling point, Thompson sees danger ahead for the specialist messaging providers.

"My thought, just in general, for this market is that these are point solutions that are trying to capture some mind/market share right now because of the way people are interacting," she says. "But over time, that functionality is going to be included in other things."

Rajeev Chand, managing director and head of research at Rutberg and Company, concurred, though for different reasons. The central issue for him is that these products are hammers in search of nails.

"Getting a solution to take off in an environment where there isn't a super-clear problem is the issue. If you look at WhatsApp, one of the reasons that WhatsApp took off is that text messaging, even domestically, is very expensive in certain countries outside of the U.S," he says. "But for a business user, the price is not a factor."

"It's hard to say what will happen in the future, but if you're just going to project from today, I think you're going to see a death field of startups," Chand says. "I think the dynamic is that email works real well."

Even so, however, he noted that the basic idea behind dedicated enterprise messaging offerings is generally sound.

"The thesis is that enterprise messaging has not seen innovation since the advent of email," he says. "I think that [it] makes a lot of sense."


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