Executive Viewpoint 2017 Prediction: Bitglass – Will 2017 be the Year of Enterprise Messaging?
Enterprises have deployed an average of three sanctioned public-cloud applications, according to research from Right Scale. These are often apps such as Office 365 or G Suite for document collaboration, Box or Dropbox for file storage and Salesforce or SAP for CRM. For all the benefits of these SaaS apps – improved reliability, more intuitive interfaces, easy file sharing and collaboration – one class of applications has been left behind. Messaging.
While many organizations now use cloud-based email providers, employees have turned to unsanctioned messaging applications that provide specialized functionality and are less cumbersome to use than email. Older messaging solutions such as Yammer, Skype for Business and Lync, provide limited mobile functionality, feature few third-party integrations and sport unintuitive UIs.
Enter the next generation of enterprise messaging services. Slack, Hipchat, and Symphony are all cloud-based apps that are growing rapidly due to organic adoption by employees, and at present they are unsanctioned and unsecured. Take Slack, for example, an application with over 4 million daily active users (DAUs) and 33,000 paid teams. That’s up from 1.7 million DAUs just a year ago. In fact, a recent Cloud Adoption report, using data from more than 120,000 organizations, indicates that more than one in four U.S.-based organizations have tried Slack.
At their core, these messaging services are cloud apps like any other, and organizations need security that provides visibility and control over corporate data shared within these apps. As we move into 2017, expect more organizations to officially support and secure these widely-used messaging clients.
A key question is that of deployments in 2017. What are the challenges related to deployments of these cloud-based messaging and productivity apps? For regulated industries, cloud compliance is a critical requirement. In the U.S. healthcare industry, organizations must abide by HIPAA, which imposes limitations on sharing of Protected Health Information (PHI). As with Office 365, Slack and other messaging apps can enable unmitigated sharing of this sensitive healthcare data when the appropriate protections are not in place. The need for a security solution that can log activity involving corporate data to limit sharing and to protect connected cloud apps is essential not just in healthcare but in all industries, and will likely be a focus for IT leaders in 2017.
In the last year, cloud access security brokers (CASBs) have emerged as the go-to solutions for securing cloud apps, including leading enterprise messaging services such as Slack. As organizations migrate more of their premises-based apps to the cloud, CASBs become increasingly valuable for cross-app visibility and cross-app security controls. While organizations today may have only three public-cloud apps deployed, more deployments are on the horizon.
The shift toward cloud messaging apps is inevitable as we move into 2017 and is simply an extension of the widespread migration from premises-based apps to cloud productivity suites such as Office 365. As more organizations come to realize that these cloud messaging apps are already widely used by employees, and as cloud messaging adoption continues to grow through 2017, more of them will deploy CASBs to secure these apps.