Team Chat: The New Unified Communications?

Team Chat: The New Unified Communications?

Executive Summary

A relatively new type of communications application has gained a rapidly expanding foothold inside the modern enterprise: Team chat. These applications (also called team messaging, team collaboration, persistent messaging, and workstream communications) enable individuals to communicate within teams or workgroups in context within persistent chat spaces (typically called rooms or channels).

Team chat applications merge multiple collaboration features into a single web, desktop, and mobile application. Typical characteristics of team chat apps include:

  • Persistent chats (called rooms, channels, spaces, etc.)
  • Optimized for mobile devices enabling users to see new messages without unlocking phones, and easily respond
  • Freemium / cloud-based distribution. With a few exceptions, most team chat apps are delivered as a cloud-based service with a free trial period or free limited feature version
  • Extensibility to integrate chat apps with other collaboration and business apps (e.g. file sharing, notification, voice, video, etc.)

Team chat app vendors are setting their sites beyond simple email and IM replacement and are now either bundling capabilities like click-to-call, video chat, or conference into their apps, or are enabling chat apps to integrate with other UC services or platforms. Increasingly, team chat vendors are delivering APIs that enable developers and partners to create apps or integrations between existing business apps and team chat apps.

IT leaders should:

  • Actively plan for team chat use within their organizations, while understanding what use may exist today
  • Evaluate solutions offered by incumbent unified communications and collaboration vendors versus those offered by new entrants into the collaboration market
  • Create business cases to understand the costs of acquisition of management
  • Develop governance strategies to ensure that information contained within team chat apps is managed in accordance with information protection and retention requirements.
  • Plan for an evolution of team chat as apps increasingly compete with, or integrate into existing collaboration platforms, and offer integration into business processes.


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