We’re seeing a significant challenge today in finding the right enterprise-level team messaging app that’s easy to use, compatible with a work environment, and combines various daily functions so employees don’t have to bounce back and forth between platforms or apps causing confusion. There’s quite a proliferation of team messaging apps in the market, and having so many options at your fingertips makes it difficult for application development & delivery (AD&D) pros searching for the right platform for their enterprise.

Years ago, employees used consumer-grade instant messaging tools from companies like AOL and Yahoo. Concerns about security, along with a lack of consistent solutions, led them to deploy tools from Microsoft, IBM, or Jabber. Today, adoption of consumer-grade tools like Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger exhibit the same patterns as the early consumer tools, and run the risk of employees spending (even) more time on social media platforms in the office. This is why tools like Slack Enterprise Grid was launched – to give enterprises the additional security, compliance, and administration tools.

Enterprises looking to standardize their messaging platform for the first time should proceed with caution. It’s easy to select a vendor based on their integration capabilities, and then build or adopt too many functions that make the solution rigid. There is a history of organizations getting too tied to Notes, Sharepoint, or a similar tool and then having a complex implementation with way too many applications and integrations. Another potential pitfall is the attempt to impose a corporate “standard,” without first finding out if there is widespread adoption of another product – Enterprise Collaboration users can simply ignore you and stick to their own tools! Along those same lines is the “build it and they will come,” approach. Successful organizations put effort into understanding adoption and utilization of EC, especially from within.

Let’s walk through an example of an enterprise searching for a new team messaging solution. One large technology company observed their development community using both Slack and Hipchat. At the same time, the rest of the organization had very deep integration with Cisco’s Unified Communications products. They went “halfsies” to find the best solutions for each group: HipChat was standardized for the developers, and Cisco Spark across the rest of the organization. This is an example where you need to embrace the energy coming from the employees, yet at the same time work toward an enterprise standard. In this case, it resulted in choosing two! It may not be about finding the perfect solution for all enterprise messaging needs – it’s about finding the solution(s) right for your enterprise.

So what does the future of team messaging apps look like? Right now, it’s a “flash point” of overlap between so many different categories of the Enterprise Collaboration market. The future is ultimately a consolidation of vendors, and the likelihood that “mega” vendors like Microsoft and Google come out on top. Looking forward, we’ll see improvements in cloud-based analytics tools that sift through and prioritize work, team content, and activities to help employees become more productive. AI and machine learning may play a role in the future of team messaging apps for enterprises, but we are still in the early stages of AI integration into those tools.

For more Forrester analysis and research on team messaging apps for your enterprise solution, check out our recent report, “Vendor Landscape: Enterprise Team Messaging Apps.”