Messaging Platforms in the Cloud Will Drive Digital Business Transformation

    As messaging platforms such as Slack and Microsoft Teams continue to gain traction it’s only a matter of time before the messages created on these platforms become the trigger for kicking off any number of digital business processes.

    Platforms such as Slack and Microsoft Teams are built on application programming interfaces (APIs) that make them highly extensible. For example, Microsoft at its recent Inspire 2020 conference announced Project Oakdale, an effort through which the low-code Power tools that Microsoft makes available will be integrated with Microsoft Teams to make it possible to create, deploy, and manage applications without ever leaving the messaging platform.

    Slack at its Frontiers conference followed suit with extensions to Slack Connect and its Workflow Builder tools that will form the foundation for what the company refers to as the event-driven enterprise.

    In both cases the messaging platform to one degree becomes the catalyst for launching any number or processes. It’s not hard to imagine how those capabilities would be applied to advance digital business transformation by creating a channel through which end customers could send a message to a supplier that would launch a purchase order that once fulfilled would be automatically recorded in a system of record.

    Slack as a system of engagement is already being employed to drive more than a half million workflows that are easily accessible to any class of end user, notes Brad Mattick, vice president of product marketing for Slack.

    “It’s a better way to drive digital business,” says Mattick.

    It will be up to each organization to determine which systems of engagement best suit their processes. Most end users will inevitably find themselves using multiple messaging platforms simply because each organization they engage will have standardized on a different messaging platform.

    Regardless of approach, however, those platforms are fundamentally more secure than email systems that have become conduits for phishing attacks aimed at either stealing end user credentials or, now more commonly, tricking end users into downloading all kinds of malware. There is, of course, no such thing as perfect security. However, a messaging platform provides organizations with a means to better secure the sensitive communications that any digital business process would routinely require.

    The biggest challenge, of course, is not every end user wants to subscribe to yet another channel on a messaging platform. However, if that messaging platform manages to reduce the volume of email that anyone has to sort and read in a given day it quickly becomes apparent messaging platforms such as Slack and Microsoft Teams provide a more efficient approach to synchronously communicate, for example, a request for data or a status alert in near real time. It’s typically not long before end users also get a handle on how best to use these platforms alongside email platforms that lend themselves more to asynchronous messages shared with individuals that typically are not part of a specific team or directly engaged in a particular process.

    Messaging platforms are not likely to entirely replace the need for email but as a front end for a wave of digital business processes that in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic are now rapidly proliferating across the extended enterprise, they have much to potentially offer. 

    Mike Vizard
    Mike Vizard
    Michael Vizard is a seasoned IT journalist, with nearly 30 years of experience writing and editing about enterprise IT issues. He is a contributor to publications including Programmableweb, IT Business Edge, CIOinsight and UBM Tech. He formerly was editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise, where he launched the company’s custom content division, and has also served as editor in chief for CRN and InfoWorld. He also has held editorial positions at PC Week, Computerworld and Digital Review.

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