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In last Friday’s post, I suggested that group messaging apps like GroupMe, Kik, and Whatsapp are not well-suited for use by more formally organized groups, at least not in the same way that Thinbox is.
But what about those that are?
A number of apps designed for use in the workplace could work in other types of group settings just as easily. Of the more than 150 apps that make up the business-related mobile messaging ecosystem, three stand out: Cotap, Officechat and Tigertext.
Despite a few variances, the premise behind each application is basically the same: provide a secure environment where employees can easily communicate with one another via text.
CITEWorld, a site that covers the IT industry, said in an article addressing the topic that, due to its familiarity among consumers, mobile messaging has made its way into the workplace. A problem exists, however, in that use of apps such as iMessage or Facebook Messenger limits the amount of control that IT can exert, making security a major concern.
To resolve the problem, a new genre of workplace group messaging apps has arisen that replicate the familiar instant messaging experience, but which promise “central management, compliance with regulatory standards, and a focus on security,” said CITEWorld.
The rise in development of workplace text messaging apps is the result of three forces converging:
1. Smartphone Adoption
90% of everyone in the US have a mobile phone, and 56% own a smartphone, said a Pew Internet fact sheet on mobile technology.
“Smartphones are putting the social network and instant messaging in the hands of an older generation who otherwise wouldn’t bother, just as the generation that grew up with SMS and Gtalk is starting to get to work,” said Tigertext CEO, Brad Brooks, in the CITEWorld article.
2. Growing BYOD Trend
Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), which is the policy of permitting employees to bring personally owned mobile devices is a growing trend.
An IBM study found that 82% of employees think smartphones play a critical role in business. The study also showed benefits of BYOD included increased productivity, employee satisfaction and cost savings for the company.
3. Consumer IM/SMS Behavior
Text and instant messaging are commonplace. Research from mobile messaging company Acision found that smartphone owners in the US who use text messaging send an average of 111 messages per week. The aforementioned Pew Internet report revealed that sending or receiving text messages is the number one activity among mobile device users.
Invariably, tools that people use in their personal lives are bound to find their way into the workplace. To quote Cotap CEO, Jim Patterson, “The way we communicate in our personal life is how we’ll communicate at work.”
Workplace Mobile Messaging App Goals
Aside from their ability to provide a more secure environment, one goal of these apps is to enable each and every employee to communicate, whether they be office workers or people on the front lines.
Since not every employee has a company email address, communication with them is often limited and intrinsically more difficult. For those who do, these apps seek to replace the heavy reliance on email by transferring messaging to the app.
(Interestingly, at least for the moment, Cotap, Officechat and Tigertext all require a company email to connect, so I’m not sure where that leaves employees who have no such address.)
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Ubiquitous adoption, coupled with freedom from slavery to email are also goals of Thinbox. Our product is not designed strictly for business use, however. Any group or organization – sports teams, church groups, non-profit organizations, etc – can use it.
Thinbox being the exception, not unlike their consumer-oriented cousins, each of these apps facilitate peer-to-peer communication, whether individually or in groups. Invariably, people-based connections can lead to extraneous conversations that require users to parse through multiple lines of text in order to get to the meat of the message.
Thanks to its category-based, subscription model that allows people to connect to the topics (not people) most relevant to them, Thinbox filters out such noise.
Put smartphones in the hands of people who love to text, then let them bring those devices to work, and it stands to reason the development of mobile messaging apps designed for use in the workplace would soon follow.
What enterprise social networks were to companies a few years ago, mobile messaging apps are today. They open the veil of workplace communication to include every employee, office workers and those on the front lines alike.